Is Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson a Senior Bowl snub?
Back in late September, here’s what Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy had to say about Minnesota senior wide receiver Tyler Johnson:
Can’t imagine the backlash from Draft Twitter if @GopherFootball WR Tyler Johnson (@T_muhneyy10) doesn’t get a Senior Bowl invite. It’s a crowded WR position this year but Johnson’s savvy, toughness, hands, and production are among the top of the class. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/UGJCOXOoXu
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) September 28, 2019
With all due respect to Nagy, we’re all still waiting on that Johnson invite.
Thus far, there is no word on whether Johnson has received, or accepted, an invitation to play in the 2020 Reece’s Senior Bowl.
Granted, as Nagy alluded to in his Sept. 28 tweet, the 2020 draft class is loaded at wide receiver. Draft analysts say anywhere from 12 to 20 wide receivers could be taken among the first 100 picks.
From The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, in a comment from his latest top 100 big board rankings:
“Stats don’t mean much when it comes to the scouting process. Johnson is a quality player. He could go top-100, but average speed (4.55 range) is going to hurt him a little bit in a loaded group. Many in the media hyped him up, but I have yet to talk to a pro scout who saw him better than a 3rd-to-5th round guy.”
Johnson vs. the rest of the field
Of course, it’s easy to make an argument in Johnson’s favor. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, he’s caught 66 passes for 1,025 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, helping the Gophers to one of their best seasons in recent memory. For his career, Johnson has 193 receptions for 3,012 yards and 30 touchdowns while averaging 15.6 yards per reception.
But if you’re going to add Johnson, then who are you going to argue against? The receivers who are Senior Bowl-bound are all solid prospects, including:
- Denzel Mims, Baylor
- Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt
- Collin Johnson, Texas
- Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
- Bryan Edwards, South Carolina
- Devin Duvernay, Texas
- Chase Claypool, Notre Dame
- Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
Loaded WR class
Overall, Brugler has 17 wide receivers among his top 100 players. Johnson isn’t one of them. Fanspeak has 13 receivers in its top 100. Johnson is ranked No. 191, which would put him in the middle of the sixth round.
Of course, there’s time yet for Johnson to receive a Senior Bowl invite. Nagy tweeted on Nov. 23 that things were quiet on his end, adding that game officials are still making decisions on the final 26 invites.
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) November 23, 2019
However, it’s important to note that Johnson – along with Minnesota teammates Rodney Smith (RB) and Chris Williamson (CB) – recently accepted an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl. As Pro Football Focus pointed out, it’s rare for a Shrine Bowl player to receive a Senior Bowl invite.
Johnson’s absence hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“This one was by far the most surprising, as Johnson is in the midst of his second straight 1,000-yard season for the Golden Gophers,” Michael Renner writes in PFF’s latest NFL draft notes report. “While he’s had inconsistent hands over the course of his career, his drop rate has finally dipped below 10% this season (six drops on 73 catchable). He’s a superb route runner with excellent shake to get off press coverage. As the 31st player on our updated draft board, this is a head-scratcher.”