#7 Overall Wide Receiver by Football Addicts
Weight: 205 Lbs
Position: Wide Receiver
Growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota Tyler Johnson actually played quarterback and defensive back for Minneapolis North High School. He was also a star athlete on the basketball team, helping them win a Class 1A State Championship. 247Sports would rank him as the 5th best player in Minnesota and the 33rd ranked athlete in the nation. After receiving offers from Minnesota, Iowa State and Wisconsin, Tyler would commit to Minnesota on Oct 11th, 2015.
Oddly enough even though Johnson nearly averaged a touchdown every six plays at quarterback, he would switch to wide receiver for the Golden Gophers. During his freshman season Johnson caught 14 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. This was Minnesota’s first year under Tracy Claey, and they would go on to be 9-4 including a win over Washington State in the 2016 Holiday Bowl. After a messy break up, Minnesota would move on from Claey after the the 9 win season and bring in a new head coach named P.J. Fleck.
His sophomore year he would receive a lot more of the offensive shares, recording over double the amount of receptions. Johnson recorded 35 catches for 677 yards and seven touchdowns, which would lead the team in every category. Despite the up-tick in production, Minnesota overall would struggle in Fleck’s first year. The Golden Gophers went 5-7, falling to score a point in their final two games of the season.
Once again Tyler saw his offensive production basically double the next season as he broke onto the scene in the Big-Ten. He once again led the team in all receiving categories with 78 receptions, 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. Johnson finally received some help on the opposite side of him in freshman Rashod Bateman who had 51 catches for 706 yards himself. P.J. Fleck would look to be trending upwards too, as Minnesota would finish the season 7-6, and be invited to the 2018 Quick Lane Bowl where they beat Georgia Tech 34-10.
2019 would be a special year for Minnesota as a team, and be lead by Johnson’s most productive season in his career. Tyler led the team with 86 receptions, 1,318 yards and 13 touchdowns, and was voted First Team All-Big Ten for 2019. Rashod Bateman really helped take pressure off Johnson, recording 1,200 receiving yards himself, thus blossoming the Gophers offense. Minnesota would head into the final week of the season ranked No. 8 in the nation vs Wisconsin for the chance to play in the Big-Ten Championship. Sadly they would lose this game 38-17, and wind up playing in the Outback Bowl vs Auburn. Minnesota would go on to win this game, 31-24, with Tyler Johnson killing the Tigers with 12 receptions, 204 yards, and two touchdowns. He would of course walk away with the Outback Bowl MVP award.
Strengths and Weaknesses
One of the acute things that first caught my eye with Tyler was his willingness as a blocker. This is a hit and miss kind of trait normally for receivers, and I think could be something NFL scouts take note of as well. He is physical at the point of attack, and has shown very strong hands. During the Iowa game, Johnson runs a streak up the middle and gets leveled by a safety while he is in the air but still comes down with the 37 yard completion.
Watching his film you see Johnson line up inside and out, and produce in both areas as well. He is very fun to watch once he catches the ball, and shows off his ball carrier vision. As well as everything he brings on the field, Johnson is a great leader and someone who will help bring/set a championship winning culture.
Despite being a dual threat quarterback, Johnson seems to lack the athletic ability that jumps off the screen. He won’t be favored to win 50/50 balls, he won’t burn a cornerback with his speed, but he does win with his football I.Q. He doesn’t like press coverage, and I would like to see him become more consistent when dealing with physical cornerbacks.
NFL Draft Projection/NFL Player Comp
NFL Draft Projection
Johnson is a very good receiver, but the problem is there is a bunch of really good receivers in this class. I still think he might be able to crack the 1st round, but as of right now he most likely is going to be an early Day 2 steal. Similar to how we have seen from JuJu Smith Schuster, and Michael Thomas, we could see Tyler Johnson make an immediate impact as a 2nd round pick.
Currently I have Johnson falling to the Colts with the 44th overall pick and considering that is right about where I have him on my big board, I’d say the Colts should be very happy here. T.Y Hilton isn’t getting any younger, and giving him a running mate will help him last even longer. Earlier in the draft I have them selecting Jordan Love, and bringing in Johnson gives him a reliable option off the bat.
NFL Player Comp
Some might forget that Randall Cobb was a converted quarterback himself, before transitioning to wide receiver at Kentucky. You could probably even argue the fact that he’s a tad more athletic than Johnson too. But I bet they will test out pretty similar and the thing that works best for them is their capability to just get open. Whenever I watch Tyler Johnson I get flashbacks of prime Randall Cobb with the Packers, who was one of the best receivers in the game. They will beat you from all levels and sides of the field.