Diontae Johnson, WR
School: Toledo | Conference: Mid-American
College Experience: RS Junior | Age: 22?
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 181 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 4th or 5th Round
NFL Comparison: Ryan Switzer
Diontae Johnson has been a huge weapon for the Toledo Rockets the past couple of seasons. Johnson got his opportunity the season before last (2017) when starter Cody Thompson was lost for the year with a leg injury. He made the most of that opportunity. Johnson is one of those guys who you just want to get the ball in his hands and let him do what he’s going to do. He’s a threat as a receiver all over the field but especially on the long ball and on short passes where he can run for yards behind blocks. He’s also a threat as a returner on punts and kickoffs where he boasts impressive averages. It hasn’t always been this easy for Johnson though. He was just a 2-star recruit from Florida when he committed to Toledo after receiving offers from schools like Eastern Illinois and Alcorn State. Johnson had to learn how to be a receiver. His head coach characterized his quickness as “elite” but acknowledge also that Johnson had to work on a lot of nuances at the position so that would consistently yield positive results on the field. Johnson still has some areas he can clean up but he will be an interesting day 3 pick because of his athleticism and versatility. Depending on what he does at the combine he also can push himself into the day 3 conversation.
- Excellent athleticism, quickness, agility, speed, and acceleration.
- A threat with the ball in his hands on the run. Johnson shows great visions and willingness to follows his blocks as well as great agility and change of direction skills. He can burst through lanes created and works well in open space. He has take it to the house ability on catches short, medium, or long.
- Hands look natural as a receiver, he’s pretty good at tracking the ball in the air and making adjustments
- Has special teams value and a kick and punt returner. Posted impressive averages in his career and had a few scores on both punt and kick returns.
- Consistency applied to everything. Some plays he looks great others not so much. I also think he tries too much to shake defenders after the catch at times it can lead to yards lost.
- I was looking for the dog in him. On some plays he seems utterly uninterested in finishing his route if he senses the ball isn’t going his way, on PA he needs to sell this better anyway, also doesn’t seem that interested in blocking.
- While others may point to his ability to stop on a dime as a positive indication of his route running I think he needs a lot more attention to detail in this area.
- I got shades of Jamison Crowder on punt and kick returns. A guy normally money at catching the ball letting it slip through his hands and being lucky enough to recover it.
Let’s see his work:
Toledo WR Diontae Johnson has tremendous value— vertical stretch WR, outstanding PR & KOR. I have 3rd rd grade on him.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 31, 2019
Gotta stop sleeping on my man Diontae Johnson. Not many guys can run routes like this. Beautiful stick inside on the release, flying to sell the go, and stops on a dime. Impressive play considering he fell down. pic.twitter.com/zfeG69CRKf— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) February 3, 2019
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
I can see why people would get excited about Johnson. His quickness, agility, and speed are great and he is really a threat in space. If used correctly I can see him having a some big plays and potentially a special career in the NFL. He needs a couple of seasons or more though before he makes that jump. I think he needs a bit of work with a position coach to add some polish to his game and hopefully to learn to be motivated to do a little bit of the dirty work. I see Johnson as a slot receiver who can excel at exploiting defense in the middle of the field. The Redskins could certain use his athleticism and YAC ability. I’m not sure if he is ready day one to step in and contribute to the slot in normal circumstances but if the Redskins lose Jamison Crowder to free agency the team may not have a choice. Additionally, I think his most immediate value would come with his ability to return on special teams. This is an area where the Redskins need a lot of help and Johnson has done pretty well in college as a returner. If he could contribute there in year one while working on his game and gradually earning reps the Redskins could have a future starter in the slot.