The 2023 NFL Draft is in nine days! This is the second-to-last prospect we’ll be reviewing before the day finally comes, so selections are becoming more difficult.
The player we’re reviewing this week (that whom you already know from the title) is one that Green Bay, admittedly, probably won’t pick with their 15th overall selection. However, he is a polarizing prospect in a position of need for the Packers, and it’s that polarization that could have him potentially fall out of the first round and into the second.
Oh, also, I’m going to write whatever I want to write about at the end of the day.
WR Quentin Johnston, TCU
The 21-year-old Johnston is an outlier in a class of predominately relatively small, slim receivers. He’s listed at 6’3, 208 lbs. Not only is he one of the more physically imposing receivers in this class, but he’s one of the more athletically gifted. Johnston declined several workouts at the Indianapolis combine, including the coveted (and possibly overrated) 40-yard dash.
However, Johnston did complete the broad jump and vertical jump at the combine, where he ranked in the 99th and 95th percentile, respectively. He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds at the TCU pro-day, lower than most would like to see from a receiver but absolutely respectable considering his size. That time is still better to the sub-six-foot Jordan Addison and comparable to the consensus top receiver in the draft, Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Basically, Johnston is a physical freak, but how does his film stack up?
- Turning upfield after catch
- Change of direction
- Speed and acceleration
- Yards after catch
A lack of speed shouldn’t be a concern for Johnston. His ability to reach his top, impressive speed is remarkably quick, especially right after securing the catch. He has surprisingly great footwork and change of direction for a guy his size, making him hard to track down and tackle. He excels at catching shorter routes and picking up extra yardage. His route running is average at best, but most effective under about 15 yards. I love the way Johnston executes slant and curl routes. Johnston uses his great size and footwork to release off the line and get a step ahead of the defender.
- Doesn’t use size/length to full advantage
- Ability with ball in the air
- Occasional low motor
For as big as he is, Johnston doesn’t always use his size to his full advantage, particularly when the ball is in the air. On shorter routes, such as comebacks or curls, he often fails to work back to the ball and will usually drop it when hit by the behind defender. He doesn’t consistently catch balls in traffic or with defenders in close proximity. There isn’t as much tape of him climbing the ladder and snagging a ball out of the air over a defender as you might expect from a nearly 6’4 receiver in the 95th percentile of the vertical jump.
Johnston isn’t a consistent catcher with his hands. His technique is not prototypical or entirely sound. There might also be concerns about motor and conditioning, as Johnston will sometimes jog routes and leave himself well covered.
Despite talking about weaknesses as much if not more than strengths, Johnston has too high a ceiling to ignore. His fluidity, size, and speed are a special combination that, with the potential of improving his fundamentals and technique, could make him a receiving weapon to be feared in the NFL. Johnston is more than a simple, big, straight-line receiver. He shows signs of being a player that can round out his game.
Whatever offense Johnston lands with must know how to use him. I don’t think he’s a player who can come in and become a team’s number one receiver from day one. His skills are raw. He will need to develop. Still, a young, physical outlier with obvious raw talents is bound to draw attention from NFL teams in the first round, and rightfully so.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Johnston becomes the best or second-best receiver from this class, but it also wouldn’t surprise me to see him burn out after a rookie contract if he stays completely as he is.