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.
Route Running –Runs a pretty diverse tree, courtesy of usage all over the field. Has admirable route release and does well to dissuade press coverage from getting clean contact. Plays through punch in the contact window well. Can get sloppy at the top of route stems.
Hands –Strong hands. Like his ability to catch away from his game and shows effectiveness to pluck when he’s forced to courtesy of ball placement. Does show predisposition to trap the football when he’s square to his passer, letting the ball get into his numbers.
Contested Catch Ability –Ball skills have afforded him some late reactions to balls flashing at the catch point and yielded some back shoulder throws and concentration catches with a defender draped over his shoulder. Body control along the sideline is effective.
Run After Catch Ability –Not exciting. Has good vision to stick his foot in the ground and can usually make the first defender miss, but he lacks the burst, juice, long speed or strength to really rumble through the secondary. Can get pulled down by even modest contact.
Football IQ –Plays to his strengths. I like that he understands how to release at the LOS and create separation as a pedestrian athlete. Has had to develop his game from a technical perspective. in order to have the success he’s had.
Vertical Receiving –Is one of these mysterious guys who can stack you despite not being fast. Have to think that impact will be diminished at the NFL level vs. longer and faster boundary cornerbacks. Ball skills in this department are excellent.
Change of Direction Skills –Isn’t the most fluid of players. He’s not twitchy by any stretch of the imagination and he doesn’t have a lot of suddenness to his feet, either. Rounded corners are a regular on film when he’s looking to run away from tacklers in pursuit.
Speed –Not a burner. As a matter of fact, he’s pretty slow to get things started and that allows defenders to sit on his route stems if they’re playing off coverage. Does well vs. turn and run to temper his release and then accelerate to create a vertical stack.
Competitive Toughness –Like his attitude. He plays hard, both on his route stems and when tracking the football in the air. Has won some 50/50 balls by simply out-working defenders to get positioning for the football. His functional play strength is adequate. Not great but not bad.
Blocking Ability –Role as a blocker is pretty straight forward: get in the way. Has the frame to be a pest for defensive backs but often will look to run guys out of the picture or simply flash hands and force DBs to reroute in their pursuit to the ball.
BEST TRAIT – Body Control
WORST TRAIT – Explosiveness
BEST FILM – Northern Illinois (2018)
WORST FILM – Temple (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Anthony Johnson projects as a possession receiver in the NFL, although his ceiling is hard to get excited about. Johnson lacks any dynamic qualities to his game, he’s an effective tracker of the football and shows good ball skills, but lacks in the needed burst, suddenness and physicality to manhandle man coverage and stack defenders with consistency. Johnson, with reps, can create yards. But he’s not a cornerstone piece or coveted asset to an offense.