The wide receiver class in the 2020 NFL Draft promises to be one of the best in recent memory. And considering how good the 2019 wide receiver class was, that is certainly saying something.
The 2020 class has top prospects who could join the ranks of the league’s elite receivers shortly after being drafted, but there also looks to be a really impressive depth of talent in the upcoming draft. There are receivers who have yet to receive national attention who could be contributors or even potential starters at the next level.
Minnesota emerged as a threat for the College Football Play-offs this past year and have several players who should see their profile raise over the course of the draft process. Wide receiver Tyler Johnson emerged as a consistent and dangerous playmaker for Minnesota over the last two seasons. With the Giants in need of both a number one receiver and better depth over-all, Johnson certainly bears a closer look.
Prospect: Tyler Johnson (WR, Minnesota)
Games Watched: vs. South Dakota State (2019), vs. Purdue (2019), vs. Iowa (2019), vs. Auburn (2019)
Red Flags: None
Games Played: 43
Yards: 3,305 yards
Receptions (ypc): 213 (15.5 per catch)
Touchdowns: 33 touchdowns
2019 stats: 86 receptions, 1,318 yards (15.3 per catch), 13 touchdowns
Best: Hands, route running, short area quickness, versatility
Worst: Explosiveness, play strength
Projection: A starting receiver with positional versatility
Minnesota receiver Tyler Johnson is a versatile receiving prospect with good length and enough thickness. Johnson has experience lining up in multiple positions in Minnesota’s offense, frequently lining up at the X, slot, and Flanker positions. He gets a good release off the ball against off coverage, wasting little motion getting into his routes. Johnson is a savvy route runner who varies the tempo of his stems to both throw off defenders’ timing and sell double moves. Johnson has enough speed to threaten defenses deep, particularly when he is able to use his route running to create separation from defensive backs. He shows good short-area quickness on both quick passes and on come-back routes. Johnson shows a good ability to find voids in zone coverage and position himself between the ball and defenders in man coverage.
Johnson has very good ball skills, routinely extending and adjusting to the ball to expand his catch radius and is a natural “hands” catcher who flashes his hands late to give defenders as little opportunity as possible to react and disrupt the catch. He is capable of making difficult catches look routine and winning at the catch point against tight defense and double teams. Johnson has some ability after the catch and does not shy away from contact.
Johnson rarely faced press coverage in the tape watched, both because of alignment and teams played, and his ability to routinely defeat it is unknown at this point. Johnson has average at best play strength and can have his routes disrupted by physical defenders and be knocked off his blocks as well. Johnson is a functional athlete but lacks great twitch and explosiveness both out of his breaks and off the line of scrimmage.
Overall Grade: 6.1 - A good prospect with a some average and above average traits. A good value on the second day of the draft. [Grading Scale]
Tyler Johnson projects as a starting receiver in the NFL with scheme diversity. He might not have the raw athleticism favored by vertical offenses, but he has enough to threaten defenses deep. He might be best as a “big slot” or Flanker at the NFL level, as his ability to consistently defeat man coverage on the line of scrimmage is unknown. Minnesota moved him around the offensive formation, but he spent a large number of snaps off the line of scrimmage as a slot receiver.
He is a dependable player who should be able to keep offenses on schedule as a possession receiver but also has the ability to generate big plays when given the opportunity. Johnson is a competent but not overly creative ball carrier who will pick up the yardage available but isn’t particularly creative after the catch. He is also a willing blocker but will need to get stronger and improve his technique if he is to be relied upon to block for his offense.