Anthony Johnson is a 6-2, 207 pound wide receiver out of the University of Buffalo. He also has the talent to be one of the best wide receiver prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. Johnson was one of the best receivers in college football in the 2017-2018 season, and should build off of his performance in 2018. If he continues to develop heading into this season and towards the 2019 draft, he might be the first receiver taken next spring.
Anthony Johnson was a transfer from Iowa Western Community College leading up to the 2016 NCAA season, a year in which he redshirted for Buffalo. In his first season with Buffalo, he exploded onto the radar with 76 catches for 1356 yards and 14 touchdowns over 12 games, an average of 113.0 yards per game. One season is a small sample size, but if he can build off of that extremely successful season, he will be in good shape heading into the draft; NFL Draft Scout has him rated as the #6 overall receiver prospect in the draft class currently, and that will improve as long as he has a productive senior campaign. Johnson is an extremely athletic player with top-end speed; he has been clocked at 4.44 in the 40 officially and and has also reportedly run a 4.40 (according to a few sources, but unconfirmed). If he can replicate or improve on that performance at the Combine, Johnson should be squarely in the conversation to be the first receiver drafted in 2019. Comes from a relatively off-the-radar program at Buffalo, but his production combined with the level of play from linebacker Khalil Hodge and quarterback Tyree Jackson should put the school at the center of attention over the next season or two. Also comes from an NFL bloodline; Jadaveon Clowney is his cousin. Ultimately, Johnson is a legitimate top-tier receiver prospect who will be drafted early.
Given his speed and size, Johnson is going to be a versatile weapon in the NFL; he is capable anywhere on the field and coaches rave about his ability to be successful in numerous types of setting from bubble screens to middle-of-the-field plays to deep balls. Has a reputation among coaching staff for being a hard working player who is also willing to play physically. After transferring to Buffalo coaches wondered whether Johnson be an every-snap player or a role-player with a limited snap count who could simply make big plays when needed. His extremely successful first season shows that he has the talent and physical ability to stay on the field in a variety of schemes and packages. Played basketball in high school as well, and that experience has helped him to become dominant when fighting for contested balls. His work ethic, his size, his speed, and his consistency are all things that will immediately endear him to NFL coaching staffs.
On film, Johnson is simply a playmaker. Is extremely successful on short passes and in motion; has the speed to quickly break a ball upfield for a first down after a short throw. Has the talent and awareness to adjust to underthrown passes and still makes plays. Extremely crisp route-runner with quick cutting ability and outstanding footwork. Dangerous from all spots in a formation. Extremely solid hands and outstanding catching ability. Has the athletic ability and agility to make defenders miss tackles, which generates yards after the catch. Also is a capable blocker. While he will not overwhelm defensive players with his blocking ability, he will do what is necessary to keep his guy out of the play when called upon to block. Showcases decent leverage on blocks, but pad level could be lower. Then again, Johnson's main role is a receiver and blocking is a secondary trait that will keep him on the field during designed runs but will not significantly impact his value as an NFL prospect. Still, it is good to see that he is willing to block; this attests to Johnson's intensity level as a player; he's not one to take plays off, and will instead play hard on every snap.
It is easy to notice Johnson's versatility as a player after watching even one or two games. For example, against Western Michigan in 2017 (film here), Johnson was utilized in the short yardage game, as a blocker, on read options, as a running back in a reverse that went nowhere because of poor blocking, and as a down-field weapon. One of Johnson's best traits is his ability to continue drives. He is extremely aware of the first down marker on every snap and will make the extra effort necessary to get there. Has the vertical ability to go up in the air and high point balls. Will usually come down with those throws. Bobbled one of these passes (thrown high) against Western Michigan while in contact with a defender, but kept the ball away from the defender and nearly came down with a catch. Needs to get slightly better at these types of play to become a top receiver in the NFL, but he is still an extremely raw talent with a lot of upside. There are plays where he is tightly engaged with a cornerback and seemingly covered, yet will make an opening in a split second in order to score. Can make big plays happen in tight coverage windows. Security blanket for quarterback Tyree Jackson, and is easily able to read open seams on the field. This allows him to create opportunities on the field for both long home run-type throws and for first down opportunities after the catch. Has the athletic ability to take control of entire drives and games. Anthony Johnson flashes NFL-caliber talent with nearly every snap, and he is still developing as a player. Might be the most intriguing receiver in the entire 2019 draft class if he declares.
Ultimately, Anthony Johnson is the type of receiver who has all the pieces necessary to be a first round pick and a legitimate #1 receiver in the NFL. He is a game-breaking receiver with the speed necessary to break open big plays when given the opportunity. However, speed is not his only weapon. He is a physical, crisp route runner who is able to block as well. Outstanding hands as well. Even though he still has a few rough edges in his game, to me, Johnson is an NFL starter with an extremely high ceiling who will be fun to watch develop, both over the end of his collegiate career and in the NFL. He might just be the best receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft Class.--Mike B., Matt and Mike Sports. firstname.lastname@example.org
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