While the Jaguars took an early-round shot at the wide receiver position in selecting Laviska Shenault in the second round of this year’s draft, it was their second receiver taken, fifth round pick Collin Johnson who stole the show on Saturday, making big play after but play in the team’s final scrimmage of training camp.
The Jaguars are now only two weeks away from the start of the regular season, currently making last-minute preparations to see who best fits their team before cut-down day on Sept. 5.
Johnson made multiple plays on Saturday, including an impressive high-point catch over rookie cornerback down the left sideline, a 31-yard touchdown thrown by backup quarterback Joshua Dobbs, and one more big-time reception down the field.
Finally, Johnson nearly came down with what would have been the “cherry on top” for the day for the young receiver, Johnson told reporters following Saturday’s scrimmage, a tussle for the football in the end zone with rookie cornerback Amari Henderson near the end of the event.
“I’m going to have to look at that one on film and figure out why I didn’t come down with it because that would have completed my day personally so I’ve got to clean that up but I am happy with the other catches and other plays I made,” said Johnson.
“But, I’m all about getting better so I’ve got to continue to get better and listen to Coach [Keenan] McCardell, who played for 17 years and is a great coach too and I’m always learning from the other receivers in the room so it’s all about learning. It’s a process for sure.”
While he starred while at Texas, at 6-foot-6, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone admits he didn’t quite expect some aspects of Johnson’s game to be so well-defined. “Has he done things here that I maybe didn’t see on film, like dropping weight and getting in and out of cuts, that’s something that is a little bit different but I would say yes, we’ve seen that.”
“I went back and looked at the senior year and said ‘O.K.’ but when I went back and looked at junior year, I was like ‘woah, I really like this guy’. Having gone back two years on him, that’s what really helped me. I really think this guy has a chance.”
During his junior season at Texas, Johnson starred in the offense, injury free and hauling in 68 passes for 985 yards and seven touchdowns. His playmaking ability has become prevalent throughout camp, and his athleticism and ability to win jump balls will likely be where he wins during his rookie season.
“I’m kind of 6’6’ but when I was a kid, I used to always do flips and stuff so I think it kind of seeped over into wide receiver and my body control,” said Johnson. “I’m trying to stay on my feet a little more but sometimes when you have to make a play, I’ll put my body on the line anytime to make the play for my teammates.”
Johnson is part of a group of receivers with the Jaguars that could be the deepest of the Doug Marrone era. While the team still has a lot to prove, the talent shown during training camp has created a tough situation, however, it appears Johnson is a near-certain lock to make the 53-man roster.
“I didn’t let being drafted in the fifth round just kill my confidence, I just was thankful for an opportunity and like I said, all you can ask for is an opportunity and that’s what I got and now basically its up to me to take advantage of that opportunity.”