The Jaguars may have struck gold in the fifth round this season with the selection of former Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson, 165th overall.
After getting one of the best playmakers in college football over the past two years in receiver Laviska Shenault in the second round, the Jaguars were able to double-dip in this year’s deep receiver class by selecting Johnson, a 6-foot-6, 222-pound receiver who has a knack for attacking the football in the air.
Over the past several seasons, the Jaguars have struggled in the red zone, not having a healthy tight end typically, and sometimes not enough talent in other areas to get the job done. Having a weapon as big as Johnson, who is one of the most dependable receivers in that area of the field is absolutely beneficial.
Prior to drafting Johnson, the Jaguars’ average height at receiver was ~6-foot-1, not necessarily the shortest group, however not anything special as far as height goes either.
The Jaguars hope Johnson will help the team from all areas of the field, as he had shown during his time at Texas. In four years, Johnson hauled in 188 passes for 2,624 yards, and 15 touchdowns, becoming known as one of the best receivers at Texas over that span, and at times the best.
“We’re looking at him and looking at the numbers and looking at what he did in 2018, obviously had a great year, got a little hampered going into his last year there. It’s different than what we have; he’s a guy that’s 6-6, 222 pounds, he can run real well, just a different element,” Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said of Johnson during his post-draft press conference last week.
“Now when you look across the board we have different types and it’s always good to have that and obviously we are looking for him to come in here and perform. He has an opportunity to win a job, has an opportunity to be a good playmaker when you look at his catch radius and where he’s at. I was excited that we were able to get him as late as we did.”
Johnson hauled in nearly everything that came his way during his time at Texas, one of the most reliable hands-catchers of the bunch, and impressed during his time at the Senior Bowl this year.
In his meetings with the Jaguars, Johnson and the staff spoke about his height and how that could offer mismatches on all areas of the field, however Johnson doesn’t want to be labeled as simply a “tall receiver”, he said during his post-selection press conference, he can be an asset in all aspects of the offense, noting that route running was one of his strong suits.
Because Johnson wasn’t able to run at the NFL Combine this year due to a groin injury, he was not able to truly showcase what he is capable of as far as his speed — one of the criticisms of his game.
While Johnson knows people may knock him for his speed, he feels he is faster than those observers may perceive him to be, and even so, there are plenty of ways to win without being a 4.3 40-yard dash guy, or otherwise.
“I also think I can get open and at the end of the day they want you to be fast so you can get open,” Johnson said following his selection last week when asked about the criticisms linked to his speed.
“So as long as you can get open you see guys like Jerry Rice not running that fast, Keenan Allen, you know Jarvis Landry and you can go on and on a list of guys who figured out a way to get open and play at that extremely high level in the NFL that didn’t have blazing 40 (yard dash) times. You know, there are ways to do it, but I definitely think I’m faster than what people give me credit for.”
The Jaguars will finally have some size at the position which has been an issue for years, and they hope Johnson will offer the solution. He believes he can be an asset, absolutely.
“So in me they get a guy that will give them his absolute best no matter what the circumstances are and I feel like that’s contagious for the team, so I’m just excited to help the team win.”