NAME: Anthony Johnson
POSITION: Wide Receiver
JERSEY: No. 83
RECRUITMENT RATING: 2-star
WT: 207 lbs
D.O.B.: Not Available
Separation Quickness – Not going to blow anyone away with his natural tools in this area. Lacks the suddenness to be a quick early separator, but does vary his stride length enough to create some separation when he gets into a corner’s blind spot. What will his explosive traits look like against better competition?
Ball Skills – Has shown the ability to go outside of his frame and reel in tough catches. Strong hands and won’t drop many balls. Nothing particularly notable about his catch radius or ability to adjust to off-target balls. Adequate in those areas, but will also leave some opportunities on the table.
Speed/Vertical Ability – Average speed. Doesn’t have great acceleration off the line of scrimmage and won’t threaten off coverage considerably. Uses his hands well to get on top of defenders down the field. Shows a bit of a late burst to detach and create some separation at the top of the route, albeit against questionable/slower corners. It’ll be surprising if he makes his living in this area.
Route-Running – Much of his route tree is centered upon working the short-intermediate aspects of the field (hitches, drags, bubbles), but over the past two years he has lined up inside and outside and received opportunities to work the whole field. Probably going to be limited in his vertical impact at the next level, but does a good job of stacking defensive backs with a late burst down the field to separate. Will round off some patterns, and has a tendency to gear down a good bit and dead leg dramatically into his breaks.
Contested Catch – Again, Johnson appears adequate in this area and has made some contested catches in his two years at Buffalo, but corners who can get their head around and elevate at the catch point will be an issue for him. Definitely competes in the air and has good size and strength to win position. Lacks the athleticism and flexibility to really contort for or high-point the ball against tight coverage.
YAC – Savvy and instinctive after the catch. Knows how to make opponents miss and shows good body control to stop and work toward space. Very aware of oncoming defenders and will fight through tackle attempts for extra yardage. Not going to wow anyone with his explosiveness or home run ability, but capable maximizing the occasional bubble screen or turning out of a hitch to pick up yards.
Releases – Varies his releases up pretty good and has experience working against press coverage. Didn’t see any corners really challenge him physically at the line of scrimmage, so that will be something to watch on the All-Star circuit. Technically proficient with his releases, but isn’t overwhelmingly quick in his transitions, which will allow better athletes to mirror him off the line.
Blocking – Solid blocker, although in the six games I watched he wasn’t asked to contribute much in that area. When he was, got hands inside, sank his hips and drove his legs through contact. Could show more interest in getting involved as a blocker when the ball goes elsewhere.
Competitive Toughness – Checks the box in this area. Will fight through tackles after the catch to pick up extra yards and brings the edge every play. Doesn’t shy away from the physical aspects of the game and competes in contested catch spots.
Athleticism/Size – Pretty average in both areas. Doesn’t have great length, but is physical and plays strong. Not special athletically, but appears adequate. Testing will be important.
BEST TRAIT – Hands/YAC
WORST TRAIT – Speed/Separation Quickness
RED FLAGS – None
In my opinion, Anthony Johnson is the toughest kind of player to scout. He has no obvious weaknesses, but isn’t outstanding in any area either. He’ll probably check in around 6-foot-1, 200 pounds and test about average for that size at the Combine. Average sized receivers with no skill or athletic trump card coming from non-Power 5 schools are an absolute pain to scout. That’s why the Senior Bowl (assuming he gets invited) will be big for Johnson.
His best features are probably strong hands and impressive awareness and elusiveness after the catch, dropping few balls and showing the ability to create on manufactured touches. Johnson can work through contact at the line of scrimmage and in the air, but finishes are inconsistent and he doesn’t look explosive enough to separate from more athletic corners in man coverage. I love that he can play inside and outside right away in the NFL, and is a capable blocker, but Johnson ceiling may be a what-you-see-is-what-you-get possession receiver whose skill set will hardly be considered irreplaceable.
PROS: Anthony Johnson is in some impressive natural skills as a receiver, he consistently illustrates the ability to identify and adjust to the football late, allowing for a sudden flash of the hands and minimizing the opportunities for defenders to play through his hands and contest the throw. Johnson also illustrates desirable body control, both along the sideline and when addressing the ball, ensuring that he’s able to position his body around traffic and uncover effectively. Was immensely productive in 2017, putting up 113.0 yards per game and 14 receiving touchdowns in 2017. Shows good toughness after the catch, is persistent in pressing forward and trying to spin off a would be tackler.
CONS: Appears to be a better athlete than he’s currently able to show, due to some hollow route running skills. Production was inflated last year with rub concepts and manufactured targets, so league may show apprehension in high valuation unless he’s able to show more polish as a route runner in 2018. Route improvement will stem from added dynamics on his stem, is a fairly linear runner and needs to manipulate DBs with more intent.