The New York Giants have needs all over their roster, from the defensive secondary to the offensive line.
The Giants need to rebuild a defense which has been one of the worst in the NFL in recent years, and they also need to rebuild their offense. The offensive line gets most of the attention, but the Giants also need to add to their wide receiver position. Not only could they lose most of their depth chart to free agency, but too many of their receivers struggled to get open and had dropped the ball.
Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson is flying under the radar after a 2019 campaign in which he dealt with a nagging hamstring injury, but he brings rare size, play strength, and physicality to the receiver position. Dave Gettleman has shown an affinity for big receivers in the past, so could Johnson catch his eye?
Prospect: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
Games Watched: vs. USC (2018), vs. TCU (2018), vs. LSU (2019), vs. Utah (2019)
Red Flags: Hamstring (2019)
Games Played: 42
Receptions (ypc): 188 (14.0)
Total Touchdowns: 15
Best: Size, catch radius, short area quickness, blocking, physicality
Worst: Long speed, explosiveness
Projection: A possession receiver in a scheme that creates space.
Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson is a big prospect with rare size, strength, and physicality. Johnson has experience lining up out wide as well as in the slot and has been effective from both alignments. Johnson is a good route runner who consistently presses his stems into defensive backs to help create separation out of his breaks. His breaks are sharp for a bigger receiver, and Johnson shows the ability to plant a foot, lower his center of gravity, and execute his breaks with a minimum of wasted motion. He is surprisingly effective on quick routes such as flat or slat routes. Johnon shows a good ability to track the ball in the air and adjusting to throws on deeper routes. He is a “hands” catcher who shows good confidence in his ability to catch the ball cleanly, rarely jumping unless necessary. He routinely extends to pluck the ball out of the air and shows strong hands in quickly securing the catch. Johnson plays up to his size with good physicality at the catch point to box out defenders and fight for contested catches. His physicality and play strength show up after the catch as well, when he will fight through arm tackles to pick up yardage in run after catch situations.
Johnson shows great play strength and competitive toughness as a blocker. He willingly engages defenders at the line of scrimmage and in space. Johnson shows good technique, consistently trying to win defenders’ chest plates and the competitive toughness to sustain his blocks for as long as necessary. Johnsons’ blocks routinely show up as positive factors in plays by his teammates.
Johsnon’s greatest limitation is a lack of overall athleticism. He lacks great long speed, which shows up in several areas. His effectiveness as a vertical receiver is a function of his size and physicality more than an ability to separate from defensive backs on vertical routes. Johnson’s ability after the catch is also impacted, as defensive backs are able to run him down. He also has some wasted motion in his release at the line of scrimmage and can struggle to separate from man coverage.
Overall Grade: 6.2 - A receiver prospect with the traits to be an important back-up or potential starter. A Day 2 value. [Grading Scale]
Johnson projects as either a likely starter or an important rotational piece at the NFL level. He profiles as more of a possession receiver playing from the flanker or slot positions than a true “X” receiver. He has surprising short-area quickness for a bigger receiver and has good awareness to find and exploit voids in zone coverage. Johnson plays up to his size, with a massive catch radius which he routinely maximizes by adjusting to errant passes and extending to catch the ball. He is also capable after the catch thanks to his play strength, and can turn poor tackle attempts into additional yardage. His physicality and play strength shows up throughout his tape, from fighting for contested catches to breaking tackles to blocking.
Johnson brings added value with his strong blocking, and that extends beyond the running game. Johnson’s blocking also proved valuable for screen plays and for his fellow receivers in space.
Johnson will need to improve his ability to release off the line of scrimmage and separate from man coverage at the next level. Also, Johnson has surprisingly small hands for a big receiver, and that could be an issue for teams with firm minimum thresholds for hand size.