Look at 10 mock drafts, and you’ll find Minnesota receiver Tyler Johnson listed anywhere from the first round to a late-round, Day 3 pick.
At 6-foot-1, 206 pounds, the issue with Johnson isn’t his size pr production. The problem is his speed, or at least the perceived lack of it.
Further complicating matters: Johnson decided against going through any on-field drills during the February combine, instead electing to run during the school’s previously scheduled Pro Day in March. Now that Minnesota (and most other schools) canceled their pro days and teams have suspended one-on-one contact, teams will have to rely heavily on Johnson’s tape to evaluate him for the draft.
It would have helped, though, if Johnson had at least participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl practices after he was a surprise Combine-snub. Instead, Johnson pulled out of that event, too.
Still, it’s hard to argue against Johnson’s production, as he set several receiving records at the school. He also receives high marks for his route running and his ability to snag contested catches.
Tyler Johnson in the red-zone🎯 pic.twitter.com/yRXBWeeUsu
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 30, 2020
“Contested-catch warrior who plays the game like a big brother imposing his will on his younger brothers on the playground. Johnson’s lack of speed and explosiveness make it hard to create clean catch windows unless he’s working against zone. However, he’s an absolute rebound champ, using instincts, timing and an impressive knowledge of body control to keep defenders away from the football and make it his own. His production speaks directly to his ball skills and competitiveness, but physical limitations might pigeon-hole him into a role as a zone-beating possession slot with red-zone talent.”
Because of Johnson’s perceived lack of play speed, combined with the fact that he pulled out of the East-West Shrine Bowl and the Combine on-field workouts, likely means is not selected on Day 2. Add in the fact that this is expected to be a historically good receiver class, and it’s possible Johnson doesn’t hear his name called until Round 4 or later.
Jake Rigdon (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak and the On The Clock, which is the only NFL draft simulator that allows you to customize and use your own big board while giving you control over trades.