Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 220 lbs.
Experience: Sr. | Age: 22
College: Texas | Conference: Big-12
Projected Round: 4th Round
NFL Comparison: Hakeem Butler
Johnson considered heading to the NFL a year ago. After all, he posted a 68-985-7 receiving line in 2018 with a 60% contested catch success rate in 13 games as a junior. Listen to his maturity on why he came back for his senior season HERE.
Over the summer, ESPN’s Matt Bowen compared Johnson to the Los Angeles Chargers’ Mike Williams. The Athletic‘s Dane Brugler rated Johnson as his No. 1 senior receiver entering the 2019 season. ESPN’s Todd McShay mocked him to come off the board with the 9th pick overall in his “much too early” mock just after the 2019 draft.
Unfortunately, Johnson did not have the type of season those experts were expecting.
Before playing in Texas’ bowl game victory over Utah, Johnson played in just six regular season games and recorded only 35 catches for 497 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. A hamstring that he originally suffered in the Longhorns opener and aggravated later in the season limited all season.
For his career, Johnson appeared in 45 games with 29 starts. He has experience at all three WR positions (X, Z and in the slot). His size makes him a mismatch for most defensive backs, and even against NFL corners, he will normally have a six inch height advantage.
By staying for his senior year, Johnson will get to showoff his skills in the Senior Bowl, where he should prove to be a difficult 1v1 match-up for the cornerback group down in Mobile.
While he ran a limited route tree at Texas, he is most effective on slants and back shoulder fades, while also showing enough “build up” speed to go deep.
While he is a towering presence, Johnson is built long and narrow, with skinny legs and a narrow torso. While he has a great catch radius and can track the ball downfield, he doesn’t have great quickness, and doesn’t create much separation.
With his frame, he may never develop as a crisp route runner, or offer much yards after the catch, because he just can’t sink his hips out of his breaks and struggles with change of direction skills.
In addition to this past season’s hamstring injury, Johnson also had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in January of 2019.
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Why he may fit with Washington:
The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has often said he thinks NFL teams should build their receiving corps like a basketball team. ”You need to have a variety of different body types and skill sets to take advantage of mismatches.”
In terms of team building, I agree. While they should be as athletic as possible, a wide receiver can get away with being either quick/elusive, or fast (elite top speed), or outstanding at competing for the ball against tight coverage (contested catches).
With his size, Johnson could develop into a red zone threat, and could supply Dwayne Haskins Jr. with a big target to find when flushed out of the pocket.
When looking at the skill sets of the other Redskins’ receivers, I think Johnson brings something different and unique.
I never agreed with the first round buzz some anointed to Johnson over the summer.
Comparably framed receivers, such as Hakeem Butler and Auden Tate have slid much further than expected in recent drafts, while others such Allen Lazard and Simmie Cobbs went completely undrafted.
Despite Jeremiah’s philosophy, it is clear, the NFL is becoming less interested in jumbo-sized wide receivers who look like an NBA small forwards.
Specifically, Butler was also a media darling just this past draft season. He was coming off a breakout season (60-1,318-9), followed by a great NFL Combine (9.92 Relative Athletic Score), but slid to 103rd pick (1st pick of the 4th round) in 2019.
That would fall in line with where the Redskins are picking, near the top of round four, and would be good place to consider rounding out Washington’s receiver room with someone like Collin Johnson.