Southern California Senior
40: 4.45 (estimated)
Has good speed and hands. Gets a nice release off the line and accelerates to make plays downfield. Has good body control and adjusts to throws behind him. Plays the ball in the air and can get it at the highest point in his jump. Shows route-running potential and does a nice job finding soft spots in zones. Gives good effort as a blocker. Makes a quick move after the catch and shows good potential there particularly on the short throws in the flat. Good with the ball in his hands whether on screens, reverses, or working on punt returns. Able to make the first guy miss as a punt returner and the speed to make the big play.
Undersized. Misses assignments a blocker and not a major factor there despite effort. Doesn't always secure the ball when making the grab, and will drop some easy throws from time to time due to those lapses in concentration. Will make some questionable decisions and take some chances on punt returns.
Johnson was USC's go-to option in their offense, being their primary weapon in the redzone and top option on third downs. He finished 2nd on the team in receptions with 64 for 692 yards (10.8 avg) and 8 touchdowns as a senior, his best year. He missed hte first five games of his junior year with a broken collarbone, but came back and finished 2nd on the team with 34 catches for 378 yards (11.1 avg) and 3 touchdowns, starting 5 of their final 8 games. His sophomore year, he was the third option in the offense, but had 33 catches for 570 yards (17.3 avg) and 8 touchdowns. He also was their primary kickoff returner his first two seasons. For his career, he combined for 56 returns for a 24.1 average and no scores. He switched to punts as a senior, and had 22 returns for 312 yards (14.2 avg) and a score.
Johnson is a talented receiver that was a fairly reliable option and playmaker for USC's offense. He works the slot well and because of his lack of ideal size, that is probably where he is destined to play in most NFL offenses. But he's a player that can shine in that role and for a team looking for a Santonio Holmes-like player, he can potentially develop into an outside threat. He doesn't have Holmes pure speed or burst, but he can be a poor man's version of it. He probably compares more favorably to a guy like Mark Clayton, who was a disappointment in Baltimore, but was still a pretty solid complement, just wasn't a go-to threat or big time playmaker. Like Clayton, Johnson will probably shine as a No. 3 guy in the pros, but may be a bit less consistent as a No. 2 guy. But he has ability to contribute as a returner and should be productive in that role. He's probably a guy that can give you 40-60 passes per year on a consistent basis, but unless he plays in a wide open offense that throws it a ton and likes to use a ton of 3 and 4-wide sets, he'll be hard-pressed to give you more. But down the road, I think he can be a nice possession receiver in such an offense and be a reliable security blanket for a QB if he can develop a rapport with that passer early. Five years from now it wouldn't surprise me if he's considered one of the bigger steals from this draft class, nor would it surprise me if he's just a backup.
Johnson would have a similar role as to Douglas early in his Falcon career, and has the potential to be a better slot option. In time, if he can improve his blocking and route-running he has the chance to develop more as an outside threat in a similar vein as Roddy White. His lack of ideal size will limit his potential there but he's a more explosive option after the catch than someone like Jenkins. At the least, he'll give the Falcons a reliable third option in their passing attack that will be comfortable in a ball control offense on shorter routes, with some potential to develop down the road as a No. 2 and complementary option.
Johnson will definitely add depth, but may not quite develop into the strong No. 2 option teams hope. But he would be a solid pickup in the third round with the potential to be a nice late second round pick for the right sort of offense.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
After Catch: 3.5
Body Control: 3.5
Scouting reports of the wide receivers in the 2011 Draft.
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