Collin Johnson Player Profile
Arm: 31 6/8
Wingspan: 78 4/8
With less than two weeks before the 2020 NFL Draft, people are antsy with excitement to finally get some sort of sporting event back in this country. As we approach the end of this rookie player profile series, I can honestly say I’ve been taught so much and that this weekly research has helped me clear up perceived ideas I had about players with no prior research. Collin Johnson, University of Texas wide receiver, was one of those players that I blindly held up to a standard that I now know to be a little over exaggerated. There’s still no denying the physical skills and athletic ability of Johnson, but I’ve now been able to open my eyes with this research and see what negatively stands out. Hopefully all of my fellow writers feel the same way and will take this new found knowledge to their fantasy leagues this fall. Time to sit back and relax on this Saturday afternoon as we go through the pros, cons, expectations, and landing spots for one of the tallest draft prospects in this loaded wide receiver class.
Pros: As a coaching staff, when you get to work with a wide receiver that is 6’5, there are many different possibilities that open up from a play calling standpoint. Obviously in man to man coverage if the defensive back isn’t physical enough then these type of receivers will just have a complete field day. This is a huge part of Johnson’s game that he excels in and even has created different nuances that have become signatures moves. For example, Johnson has made a living off sideline catches and diving to extend his body. This amazing effort results in making catches that the normal wide receiver would shy away from even attempting. I hope that Johnson continues that type of aggression at the next level, but I also realize the lasting impact it could have on his body. Since Johnson is not the best at separation, he’s learned how to play “jump ball” football which is where we see those picturesque highlights come from, including the one below. Underrated in his yard after catch ability simply because he’s not a burner, but will instead use technical footwork, finding the best angle to attack. May not always get the most yards after catch, but will always fight forward for two to five extra yards which can be precious in solidifying his role as a chain mover in the NFL. It’s almost without question that Johnson will be a red-zone nightmare for defenses in the NFL, as his big body will be perfect for short slants and goal-line fades. My favorite part of Johnson’s game is the way he will just bully defenders when blocking, when working away from the targeted route, off the field confidence. I believe this type of aggressive nature will be perfect for his longevity in the league because of how he’ll be able to contribute on special teams and in the run game.
Cons: Some of Johnson’s tape makes me feel like I’m watching a player move slow motion underwater. Definitely won’t be mistaken for a player such as CeeDee Lamb who uses his speed and shifty route running to create separation in all situations. The NFL seems to be moving towards a game where the players such as Lamb will be the only dominate force on the field. The “one trick pony” nature of Johnson’s game has, in my opinion, made him fall down teams draft boards as they are realizing that they can fill his specific skill set in the later rounds. Has mastered two routes in the typical route tree, but being a long strider has hurt the game of Johnson as he’s not able to make precise cuts or really even separate from defensive backs. So far in Johnson’s career this hasn’t been much of a problem since he’s able to use his frame and size to just snatch the ball from the air and even the grasp of defenders. In the NFL, I see this lack of separation being a problem and will result in an adjustment period for Johnson, needs to get drafted to a team with an experienced veteran wide receiver, more on that later. Ultimately, I see Johnson as more of a project wide receiver that needs to work on using his hands to catch better, becoming more physical at the line of scrimmage, and separating from defenders while lacking that breakaway speed. Could start right away for certain teams though.
Comparison/Expectations: I vividly remember when Mike Evans was catching beautiful over the shoulder footballs from Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M. Evans style left me speechless on multiple occasions in college and has honestly translated well to the NFL, as he’s recorded at least 65 receptions and 1,000 yards in every season of six year career. Remember how Evans biggest knock against him was the consistent dropped balls, which even plagued him his first couple seasons in the league. Many people even questioned Evans ability to translate his “jump ball” game to the next level. These type of comparisons and doubts are exact what I believe Johnson is struggling with currently. Excelled in college football, slowed by injury, falling down draft boards due to lack of elite athleticism, but his size and untapped potential make him a name that everyone has their eyes on. A lot of fantasy football owners will hate this landing spot, but I think the Dallas Cowboys need to keep Johnson in state and work him on the outside. This move would push Amari Cooper to the slot where, in 2018, he cashed in with 14 targets for 11 receptions, 203 yards, and two touchdowns. New head coach Mike McCarthy is used to working with multiple star wide receivers at a time and making them all relevant, refer to the days of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones in Green Bay. This just seems like the perfect move for a team that wants to contend for a division title and replace Randall Cobb.