Tyler Johnson Minnesota: vs NMSU (‘18) (b), vs South Dakota State (‘19) (b), @ Purdue (b), vs Penn State (b), @ Iowa (b), vs Auburn (neutral) (b)
Hands: 6 Route Running: 6 Ball Skills: 6 Play Speed: 4
Run After Catch: 5 Release: 6 Blocking: 4 Final Grade: 6.5
Strengths: Johnson is at his best on short and intermediate routes due to his short area quickness and route running. Shows a quick release against press, getting on top of the cornerback’s toes before he gets into his route stem. Can sell the vertical route before cutting underneath vs off coverage. Good route runner on short and intermediate routes, sells inside or outside with stutter steps and head and shoulder fakes manipulating the defender’s hips before cutting to the opposite direction with low hips. Shows understanding of zone defenses, settling in between two defenders or adjusting route to get behind defender. His hand technique improved bringing them together to make the catch instead of clamping on to the ball. Has made some outstanding one-handed grabs (e.g. touchdown vs Penn State/Auburn). Good ability on contested catches elevating to the ball and timing his jump well and walling off the defender with his back to protect the ball when coming down. Good body control and boundary awareness to stay in bounds on sideline catches. Can occasionally make the first man miss spinning away from the pursuer’s angle. Shows easy change of direction ability to transition upfield coming off horizontally. Solid separation ability against most corners. Solid mirroring skills to stay with defender when blocking while also improving his effort over the course of the season.
Weaknesses: Lacks the long speed to get on top of defenders on vertical routes, and will struggle separating vs cornerbacks that can match his speed or better. Will need help with switch releases or designed plays to get open in the deep areas of the field. Lacks acceleration to separate on his cuts and after the catch. Gets a bit loose with the ball not fully tucking it against his body after the catch. Lacks strength and grip to sustain and hold on to blocks. Could be better with meeting the ball with his hands on contested catches.
What we need to learn about him: Handling jams at the line of scrimmage. Saw mostly off coverage with a bit of soft press. How well can he run deep routes, as he wasn’t asked to do much of it at Minnesota.
Scheme: Lined up in the slot most of the time, but also lined up wide on the boundary side in the red zone and when in 12 personnel. In 4 receiver sets, was on the trips side. Had some touches running the ball through sweeps. Ran mostly short and intermediate routes in the middle of the field and outside the hash.
Injury History: 2017-broken hand missing last 2 games of season; 2018-leg injury missing 2nd half vs Indiana.
Summary: Due to his release, route running, and short-area quickness, Johnson can be a weapon as a slot receiver at the next level in the short and intermediate levels of the field. He will need to be consistent with his technique when catching the ball and improve his ball security, as he lacks the speed to outrun defenders.