Draft analysts discuss Tyler Johnson
Tyler Johnson this summer has received a lot of attention from media that cover the NFL Draft and college scouting. TGR spoke to two draft analysts -- Jesse Reeves and Pro Football Focus' Austin Gayle -- to learn more about what NFL Draft junkies think of Tyler Johnson.
Where do you currently have Tyler Johnson in your 2020 Draft rankings for both receivers and overall? If you haven’t created a ranking, roughly where do you think he could land?
JR: “Right now, it’s a little too early to tell. I like to get a full data set and see a players final year on tape before I rank him. With that said, with the expectation that he repeats, or comes close to repeating his 2018 campaign, I fully anticipate him to rank inside the top 3 wide receivers in the 2019 draft class.”
AG: “Right now, Tyler Johnson is very high on PFF's draft board. He's bordering on top-five at the receiver position and should land inside the top-50 when we release our Preseason 2020 NFL Draft Guide on August 12, 2019.”
What are his biggest strengths?
JR: “One thing that stands out when talking about Tyler Johnson is his competitive play strength. His ability to be aggressive at the catch point and in contested situations with physicality shows up on tape. He wins one-on-one matchups in tight coverage with strength and often sheds contact with ease play in and play out.”
AG: “He's a sudden mover that can separate at the line of scrimmage and coming out of his breaks. That suddenness translates after the catch, as well. He also performed well above expectation in contested-catch situations in 2018.”
What are his biggest weaknesses?
JR: “Tyler Johnson is a really good prospect but he does have some discrepancies to his game. One of those is his competitive toughness and ability to stay inside the play when not being targeted. There were times last season, especially when tasked with run blocking, where he could be seen lacking effort when asked to execute spreading the defense on the back end or making contact with a blocker to create running lanes for his offense.”
AG: “Johnson's hands are good, not great. He had 10 drops on the year, which you'd like to see him clean up in 2019.”
In what ways -- positive, negative, or neutral -- does Minnesota’s offense impact Tyler Johnson’s production?
JR: “From what I’ve seen, I know that Fleck/Kirk run a lot of one back, RPO and spread offense. The premise of a spread being to stretch the defense both horizontally and vertically really caters to the skillset of a wide receiver like Tyler Johnson. He is a mismatch in his own right and being able to exploit his skill at the line of scrimmage and allow other receivers to open things up for him, it greatly improves the production of Tyler Johnson.”
AG: “You'd like to see him run a more vertical route tree at the college level to better project his play in the NFL. His average depth of target last season (12.7) pales in comparison to other big names in the class. And he only logged 39 targets of 15-plus air yards last season, which ranked outside the top-30 in the FBS last season.”
I’ve seen some tweets from NFL Draft writers about Johnson’s advanced stats. What receiver stats do scouts care about and how does Tyler Johnson stack up?
JR: “With the rise in analytics in football, there are an over abundance of advanced metric that people use. I can’t speak to what others may use but one thing I like to use is Age Adjusted Market Share data. To put it simply, historical data shows a correlation between players, specifically at the wide receiver position, between age, production, and success coming into the NFL. Studies show that players who command a larger portion of opportunity and production at the college level at a younger age, have a much higher success rate in the NFL than those who do not. In Tyler Johnson’s case, he looks like one of the best in this area that we have seen in recent years. He has been a standout from age 19 on and has demolished statistical thresholds that tell us he can and will be dominant in the NFL.”
AG: “Drops, contested-catch rate and yards per route run are all great indicators for receiving success. Analyzing the same three metrics in different situations (i.e. deep passes, press coverage, man coverage, zone coverage, single coverage) can be very helpful, as well. All of this is made possible with PFF's databases.”
It’s obviously early, but are you familiar with any other the Draft potential of any other Minnesota players? If so, what’s your initial impression of them?
JR: “They aren’t draft eligible just yet but two sophomores for the Gophers have caught my eye. Both Mohamed Ibrahim and Rashod Bateman. Ibrahim had an impressive 2018 season from an analytical standpoint. The RB position can be tricky from year to year but I am excited to see his progression over the next few seasons. Bateman also had an impressive 2018 campaign and one thing that stood out is that he did it with a player like Tyler Johnson on the other side of him. He passed some thresholds in terms of Age Adjusted Market share as well and any time you see that being done while another wide receiver in the offense is doing it, it’s pretty damn impressive and points to a very bright future.”
AG: “Carter. Coughlin. It's early, but we at PFF are really high on the kid. We really like his potential as a pass-rusher and expect him to be high on our board when it's all said and done.”