Adding Quentin Johnston in the 2023 NFL Draft would give the Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver corps a boost.
General manager Trent Baalke surprised folks by executing a complicated trade for Calvin Ridley but that shouldn’t stop him from keep adding weapons to their wide receiver unit next offseason. Ridley will definitely help the passing attack led by Trevor Lawrence but drafting a talent such as Johnston should still be a priority.
Despite struggling with putting up wins, one thing that the Jaguars can hang their hat on in Doug Pederson’s first year is the passing offense. Ahead of Week 10, the Jaguars had the eighth-ranked offense in terms of yardage (3,307). However, Lawrence is still missing a deep threat, and 11 passing touchdowns near the midpoint of the season isn’t too remarkable.
It is my opinion that Lawrence needs his own version of Tee Higgins. Just think about this: a tall, physically imposing downfield threat that will make the tough catches. You could argue that Jacksonville doesn’t currently have anyone who wins those one-on-one contests that can go for extra yardage. With this in mind, here’s a look at the kind of player the Jaguars could be getting.
College production is often dismissed by NFL fans as inconsequential to the pro game. Depending on the position, that’s debatable. Nevertheless, for wide receivers, it’s key due to the fact that you can point to certain strengths by looking at certain numbers. In Johnston’s case, you can tell he has big-play potential despite not having 1,000 receiving yards in any one season. He’s currently accumulated 650 receiving yards while averaging nearly 16 yards per reception (15.5).
The two years prior, Johnston recorded averages of 19.2 and 22.1 yards per catch. Even more notable, Johnston was in the top five each of his three collegiate seasons in that key category. In fact, he was No. 1 in the Big 12 last season. Presently, Johnston is in the top 10 for yards from scrimmage with 643 this year. Judging from the numbers, Johnston knows how to make the most of every single reception.
Johnston stands at six-foot-four and 215 pounds, which nearly mirrors my comparison to Higgins, who has about the same measures. By comparison, Johnston towers over Ridley, who stands at six-foot-one and is overall a smaller player at 190 pounds.
Johnston’s frame will come under scrutiny during the NFL combine season, when we’ll get a more exact picture. Be that as it may, his stature combined with his speed makes him an intriguing prospect.
Speaking of that speed, Johnston has consistently shown noticeable breakaway speed. Just look at his remarkable performance against West Virginia. In particular, the play below where that speed was on full display. Once Johnston broke away from the first defender, he left him in the dust, literally.
Johnston’s special combination of size with that level of acceleration and speed is often something that can’t be coached. They’re natural gifts, and the TCU Horned Frog uses them to his advantage. Keith Sanchez of the Draft Network echoes a similar sentiment in relation to those physical attributes.
"“Quentin Johnston has surprising burst and acceleration for his size. When he gets off coverage, Johnston is able to use his speed and stride length to quickly eat up defenders’ cushion—oftentimes he has the speed to get on top of them and stack them.”"
Lawrence needs more weapons that will get additional yardage after making a catch. Johnston excels at generating extra yards in catch-and-run scenarios. Looking at the big picture, Johnston can take the top off of opposing defenses, but he’s more than just a straight-line vertical threat. Quite the opposite, Johnston is a polished route-runner and can make you pay regardless of the pattern he’s running.
Another noteworthy strength in Johnston’s repertoire are his hands. He’s not afraid of making contact and uses them effectively when going up for passes. Pro Football Focus has awarded him a 78.7 receiving grade so far this season.
When looking at Johnston’s physical profile, you’d think he was a great blocker with his presence. Regrettably, he’ll need work in that department. Also, despite excellent acceleration, Johnston is prone to getting jammed at the line of scrimmage with physical press coverage. As mentioned before, Johnston isn’t afraid of contact, but he’ll sometimes find himself in a jam if an opposing cornerback gives him a fit with his coverage.
Hand usage can be corrected with adequate coaching at the professional level, so that helps Johnston’s case. If he’s unable to crack the 1,000-yard mark, you could see him drop next April at the NFL Draft. At the same time, Johnston’s physical profile and natural aspects of his game could outweigh the lack of stats.
Assuming that Marvin Jones Jr. moves on after this season, plugging in Johnston with Ridley, Christian Kirk, and Zay Jones could be lethal.