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Anthony Schwartz ready to show he's 'not just a speed guy' in rookie season

Anthony Schwartz doesn't want his only notable football characteristic to be about his speed and deep-ball ability.

That's what many people saw first when the Browns drafted Schwartz in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. His time of 4.25 seconds in the 40-yard dash was the fastest of any prospect in the draft class, and it's the best draft measurement Schwartz had to showcase his value to an NFL team.

But Schwartz wants everyone to know he can use it efficiently, too — not just with deep balls, but in every play of the playbook.

"I'm not just a speed guy," Schwartz said. "I'm not just a guy who is going to run deep or do screens. I'm a guy who can run the whole route tree, get in and out of breaks and run every route."

The Browns believe Schwartz.

They drafted him because they think he'll add another complementary piece to their already-crowded receivers room, which is headlined by Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Behind them are Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge, three players who stepped up last season when Beckham suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 7.

But none of those players possess the same speed as Schwartz, who can already be labeled as one of the fastest players in the NFL. He starred as a track athlete at American Heritage High School in Florida and was named the 2018 Gatorade track athlete of the year as a senior. He also won the silver medal in the 100 meters (10.22) at the IAAF world championships in Finland and took the gold medal in the 4x100 relay (38.88) for Team USA.

"The fastest I have ever felt was probably my senior year in high school at my state meet when I ran a 10.07 (100-meter dash)," he said. "Everything came together smoothly. I honestly felt like I was floating in the air. That is how fast I felt I was moving.

"The good thing is I still feel like that now, even with all (the weight) I have put on from there. It is a great thing to still have that speed."

That's why Executive Vice President of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry gave him a call in the third round of the draft Friday evening.

And Berry made sure to emphasize Schwartz won't be solely featured as a speedy, deep-ball threat, either.

"What I can tell you is what attracted us to Anthony is his ability to stretch the field," Berry said. "Anthony certainly gives us multiple guys with the ability to really stretch the field vertically. The other thing I think is (Anthony is) actually still very early on in his development curve as a player. He is really, really smart from a football standpoint. He can play outside, can play inside and has the speed that can stretch deep."

Check out photos of Browns 2021 third round pick Anthony Schwartz

A "home-run" play for Schwartz doesn't always have to come with a deep pass. Slants and hook routes can create big gains, too, and Schwartz will always have the speed edge on those plays if a defensive back makes a misstep.

That's how he scored a few of his six career touchdowns and a handful of other big plays at Auburn, which also featured Schwartz as a running back — he scored seven rushing touchdowns in his time with the Tigers.

"I feel like that part of me is an underrated part of my game because I am able to get the ball early and I am able to fight for yards, get as many yards and get a lot of yards after contact," he said. "I can take a 2- or 3-yard gain into a gain of 9 or 10 yards."

The Browns will find out just how far Schwartz can stretch a field against an NFL defense come training camp. They'll give him plenty of time to find his footing, too, as the top of their receivers depth chart is already settled and stocked with depth.

Eventually, Schwartz believes he can carve a role as one of the top receivers on the team. To do it, he'll need to prove himself as a player who can create big plays in ways other than the deep ball.

But Schwartz believes he can already do that now.

"I take a lot of pride every time I touch the ball that I want to score, and it doesn't matter how I'm going to do it," he said. "I'm either going to run through you, I'm going to run around you or I'm just going to burn you."

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