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Can KeeSean Johnson’s Playmaking Ability Translate To The NFL And Help The Redskins?

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2019 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

NCAA Football: Nevada at Fresno State Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports

KeeSean Johnson, WR
School: Fresno State | Conference: Mountain West
College Experience: RS Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 6-1 / 204 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd or 4th Round
NFL Comparison: Michael Gallup

College Statistics

Player Overview

KeeSean Johnson was just a two-star recruit back in 2014 when he committed to Fresno State. The east Palo Alto native was driven to get his education and have success playing football. He was given a redshirt his freshman year but has made big time contributions to the program since. The last time a Fresno State player was this highly touted is when Davante Adams made his way to the NFL back in 2014. Adams set records at Fresno State and has gone on to develop into one of the top wide receivers in the NFL since that time. Johnson has spent his time breaking Adams’ school records. Johnson is now Fresno State’s all time leader in receptions and receiving yardage. His offensive coordinator described him as “a really motivated person” who has “high expectations for himself” and who “puts in the work to make sure he reaches those goals”. His coordinator also said what separates Johnson for other players he’s coached is that Johnson has an “elite mindset” and really “wants to be great”. The praise for Johnson doesn’t just come from his former coaches. Draft professionals who have studied him say he may have the best hands in the draft class and they note that he is among the best route runners at the position this year? So why does he have a mid round grade? He won’t test off the charts and he played in the MWC so that diminished his value a bit. The phrase “trust the tape” has been used when evaluating Johnson. If he stays in the mid-rounds he is considered by some to be a steal.

Strengths

  • Good size and athleticism for the position specifically his body control and leaping ability.
  • Natural hands, you don’t see him fighting the ball and he has an innate sense of when to attack the ball and when to let it come to him. Praise for his reliability in this area.
  • Good route runner. Release off the line is smooth and he knows how to create separation with some sneaky agility at the top of the route.
  • Shows impressive body control especially on the boundary and in the end zone. Uses his length and athleticism to create space by shaking defenders and out jumping them.
  • Competitive and effective as a blocker.

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t have any elite athletic traits. Appeared to have enough speed and acceleration to run past some guys in the MAC but I doubt he will be a bonafide deep threat in the NFL.
  • While he has decent size I think he could stand to be more physical on contested catches. On a few deep balls I say him track the ball well and time his jump well but he failed to out “body” the defender.
  • A bit of a nitpick but while he can be effective in space he is not very elusive after the catch. You can see several times where he gets upset he was taken down because it would have been a touchdown if not for it. Hopefully he can develop a stiff arm or know how to juke with more effect.

Let’s see his work:

More KeeSean Johnson videos

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

Johnson is another solid prospect that can boost the Redskins WR core in the middle rounds. Johnson does the most important things well: catch the ball and run good routes. Thats two of the Redskins major problems at WR ticked off. He is also a good blocker for the position and takes pride in helping spring his teammates for big gains. I think Johnson is a solid choice as a possession receiver for the Redskins and could certainly become a favorite of the future QB. He catches just about everything thrown at him and has a great mindset regarding his own growth and improvement. He’ll be at the combine and he probably won’t run a 4.4 but I think he has good enough speed to be a threat downfield, especially on intermediate routes. I think a WR coach can help him improve being more physical through the catch at times and he can also work on some moves that help him in getting a few more rules. You may be able to project his ceiling but you can also probably recognize his high floor. He reminds me of recent high floor prospects like Michael Gallup and Malcolm Mitchell. He may require a season or two to adjust to the pro’s but with a good QB throwing to him Johnson has the traits to be a solid WR2 potentially.