There's talk about the Ravens possibly pursing Anquan Boldin on the free-agent market since he says he wants to return for his 15th season.
What if Baltimore drafted somebody in his same mold?
USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster has been compared to Boldin by multiple outlets, including NFL Media's Bucky Brooks and NFL Media's Lance Zierlein. Even former USC wide receiver turned 12-year former pro, Curtis Conway, saw the same comparison after watching Smith-Schuster at his pro day Wednesday.
And it's a comparison that Smith-Schuster embraces.
"Yeah, definitely," Smith-Schuster said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Anquan Boldin, his speed [wasn't great], but at the same time, the way he plays, the way he approaches the game, how tough he is, I kind of see myself the same way."
Smith-Schuster looks and plays a lot like Boldin.
He measured in at the combine at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. Boldin is 6-1, 220 pounds.
Smith-Schuster isn't the fastest guy, though he ran the 40-yard dash in a very respectable 4.54 seconds. That's considerably faster than Boldin, who clocked in at 4.77 seconds.
The way they play the game is similar too. It's physical, in-your-face* *and competitive. In Zierlein's scouting report of Smith-Schuster, he used the word "aggressive" four times.
"Outstanding size and a very available target," he wrote. "Shows no concern working over the middle. Known for his competitive spirit and alpha demeanor. Hyper-aware of defenders around him in space. Works back to the ball as aggressively as he needs to when defenders are attempting to ball-hawk. Searches and sinks into the optimal openings against zone coverage. Plays to his size and has plus route strength."
The Ravens have long coveted that type of receiver, dating back to Derrick Mason, Boldin and then Steve Smith Sr. But they currently don't have one on the roster with Smith's retirement, and Smith-Schuster could make an immediate impact.
Smith-Schuster was an instant starter as a true freshman at USC, and posted 724 yards and five touchdowns that season. He also returned kicks that year.
He caught 89 passes for 1,454 yards and 10 scores in 2015 despite breaking his hand, which didn't cause him to miss any time. A back injury limited him (but didn't knock him out) in 2016, and his numbers dipped to 70 catches for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns.
While Smith-Schuster likes the Boldin comparisons, he's watched a lot of a different players in recent years.
"I like watching Dez Bryant," he said. "Just the way he plays physically, his mindset, his passion for the game."
That's not a bad comparison either. Smith-Schuster is expected to be a second- or third-round pick.