2023 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Quentin Johnston (Fantasy Football)
Continuing in our Rookie Profile Series, I am excited to break down one of the most athletically gifted wide receivers in this class: Quentin Johnston. Projected by many to be one of the first receivers selected in the first round, Johnston has the profile to be a very productive player at the next level. In addition, he checks many of the production thresholds that we look for in a wide receiver prospect, setting him apart in a very talented rookie class.
Let’s dive in!
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series, which will be going on until the 2023 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2023.
College Production Profile
Quentin Johnston entered his collegiate career as a 4-star recruit and received offers from a variety of programs such as Baylor, Oklahoma, and Texas. He initially committed to the Texas Longhorns, which would have been an intriguing scenario as he would have played alongside Bijan Robinson. However, he would eventually decommit and, instead, join the TCU Horned Frogs.
At first glance, Quentin Johnston’s raw production numbers do not look very impressive. After all, he finished with less than 700 yards in all but one season. However, if we dig a little deeper, it becomes very clear that Johnston was uniquely productive throughout his collegiate career.
It all starts with his true freshman season, accounting for nearly 30% of his team’s receiving yards and finishing the year with an impressive 22.1 yards per catch. So despite his limited opportunities, he was one of the most efficient receivers in the country. In fact, very few wide receivers enter their collegiate career immediately averaging over 25% of their team’s receiving yards and 2.00 Receiving Yards per Team Pass Attempt. The only early-declare, first-round wide receivers since 2010 to accomplish this are:
What is especially impressive is how consistently involved he was every single season. Not only did he break out as a true freshman, but he would also maintain his production for the rest of his college career. As you can see above, his receiving yards market share continuously hovered around 29%, while also setting a career-high in Weighted Dominator Rating (32.8%) in 2021. In other words, Johnston transformed into a focal point for TCU and was truly one of the most accomplished Power 5 receivers over the last three seasons.
Finally, to highlight the uniqueness of Johnston’s profile, listed below are all wide receivers since 2010 that entered the NFL exceeding the following thresholds:
- First Round Capital
- Early Declare
- +2.00 Receiving Yards per Team Pass Attempt in EACH season
There are only three wide receivers that land on this list:
Projected by many to be a first-round selection, Quentin Johnston is all but guaranteed to join this short and impressive list. In short, this should put into perspective just how special of a prospect Johnston truly is, making him an outstanding selection in dynasty rookie drafts this season.
Unlike most wide receivers in this class, Quentin Johnston possesses both length and size at 6’4” and 215 pounds. Keep in mind, because Johnston is both taller and heavier than the average receiver, we should not expect him to run a blazing-fast 40-time. Even if he runs a 4.50, his weight-adjusted speed score would land him at 111.9. As a comparison, wide receivers with similar speed scores include Alshon Jeffery, DeVante Parker, and A.J. Green. So while there will undoubtedly be multiple receivers who run faster than Johnston in the 40-yard dash, that should not diminish his athletic ability. In addition, as much as we should not over-penalize smaller receivers such as Jordan Addison and Josh Downs based on their measurables, we should not weigh Johnston’s combine results too heavily either. What matters far more is his draft capital and his production profile, which ultimately set Johnston apart from the majority of prospects in this wide receiver class.
What’s on Tape
As part of my prospect evaluation, I watch anywhere between four to six games of film to gain a better understanding of each player’s strengths and weaknesses. Below are my observations on Quentin Johnston’s film.
Games Viewed: 2022 vs Kansas, 2022 vs Michigan, 2022 vs Oklahoma, 2022 vs Oklahoma State
1. Impressive Elusiveness that led to plenty of Yards after the Catch
Johnston might be one of the most elusive wide receivers in the 2023 draft, especially with the ball in his hands. He was by far the most dangerous when leveraged on short and quick routes where he could showcase his “after the catch” ability. Not only does he possess a variety of twitchy hesitation and spin moves, but Johnston also has the lateral quickness and length to consistently force missed tackles. So despite not being the most proficient route runner in this class, Johnston can find immediate success at the next level as offensive coordinators can simply manufacture touches for him to create yardage in the open field.
The clip below gives us a glimpse of what Johnston can do with the ball in his hands. On a short in-breaking route, he plants his foot and spins in the opposite direction to evade one defender. Johnston then showcases his ability to vary his speed, avoiding another tackle for additional yards.
2. Effective Deep Threat With Speed and Size
While Johnston does not always create immediate separation at the line of scrimmage, his long strides allow him to gain separation on deeper routes. In other words, it may take him longer to ramp up to full speed. But once he does, he found himself behind the defense very frequently. Even if a defensive back can keep pace, Johnston has the athletic ability to create separation vertically or extend his catch radius for an impressive reception. Johnston’s game-winning touchdown against Kansas may be one of my favorite deep plays in his film. Fighting through contact, he adjusts his body to reel in the reception while displaying the awareness to keep his foot in bounds.
3. Disrupted Targets in Tight Coverage
While this is not necessarily a major issue, there were a handful of instances where Johnston relied on “body catches” to haul in receptions. While he did find success on some of those opportunities, there were also occasions where defenders were able to use their physicality to dislodge the ball for an incompletion. This was most prevalent on shorter routes where Johnston did not create as much separation. In such situations, you would like to see him use his length to pursue the ball, giving the corner very little opportunity to interfere with the reception. On deeper routes, Johnston would often create enough separation downfield where body catches were less of an issue. This was also partially driven by his quarterback’s ball placement, which may be less of a concern at the next level depending on the team that selects him.
What’s Not on Tape
1. Extensive Opportunities in the Slot
In my four-game sample size, Johnston ran out of the slot on only 9.4% of his opportunities. But when he did line up inside, Johnston was relatively successful. He showcased an awareness to find the soft spot against the zone, while also leveraging his speed to find separation in the middle of the field. In fact, he could thrive at the next level as a bigger slot receiver, which could be another opportunity to get him involved right out of the gate. And as you can see below, with his unique blend of size and speed, Johnston can be a mismatch nightmare no matter where he lines up on the field.
2. Consistency in Non-Passing Plays
One of the negatives in Johnston’s film was his lack of consistency when he was not a primary option. Specifically, on running plays, Johnston showed inconsistent effort as both a route runner and blocker when he was not directly involved in the play. There were also instances where defenders would slip by him far too easily as he barely engaged and initiated contact. This issue was especially surprising considering Johnston has the physical attributes to be a dominant blocker on the field. Especially in his film against Michigan, Johnston showcased both physicality and quickness on multiple reps, preventing his defender from disrupting the play. In short, he has the tools to be an effective blocker; he simply displayed inconsistency in that facet of the game.
2023 Fantasy and Dynasty Outlook
Quentin Johnston is one of the most intriguing wide receivers in this class. Especially with his combination of size, speed, and physicality, he offers a skillset that most wide receivers do not possess in the 2023 class. Therefore, it would not surprise me if he did become the first wide receiver selected in this year’s draft.
Naturally, with first-round capital, Johnston should be an immediate contributor similar to Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. As for his potential Dynasty outlook, my prospect model – which factors in experience-adjusted production, efficiency, and projected draft capital – has Johnston graded in the 95th percentile. To provide context, players who graded similarly are Alshon Jeffery and Drake London. And as I mentioned earlier in the article, very few wide receivers were as consistently productive as Johnston was at TCU. Therefore, I truly believe he has the upside to produce multiple WR1 seasons, especially if he finds himself in a system that can fully leverage his strengths on the field.