Tyler Johnson: The 2020 Value Wide Receiver
As you may have heard, the 2020 NFL Draft class is loaded. Some of the top talent such as D’Andre Swift and Jerry Jeudy will not make it out of the top five in your dynasty rookie drafts. Make no mistake, those two players are absolutely worth top-five selections. However, there is no need to panic and sell the farm to acquire them. Tyler Johnson can provide an edge for your fantasy teams, and he can be had in the mid-to-late first round.
Name: Tyler Johnson
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 205 pounds
Johnson hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota where he attended Minneapolis North High School. He was a do-it-all player for the Polars, starting at QB and DB. Despite his current position for the Gophers, Johnson was able to lead his high school to a state title by posting 2,606 yards passing with 36 touchdown passes to go along with 1,100 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns. Johnson was so incredible, he actually averaged a touchdown on roughly every six snaps on offense. His level of play landed him a three-star rating as an athlete from 247 and scholarship offers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Iowa State.
This overall athleticism was exemplified on the basketball court as well. Johnson was a three-star combo guard, who ranked fifth in Minnesota at his position. He received a division one scholarship offer from North Dakota State University. Some of his basketball abilities are evident in his current game.
The Stats and Accolades
During his time at Minnesota, Johnson has continued to progress from year to year. His freshman season with the Gophers, Johnson only produced 14 catches for 141 yards receiving and a touchdown. During his sophomore year, Johnson increased those numbers to 35 catches for 677 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns. He ultimately broke out his junior season by posting 78 receptions for 1,169 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. His junior year statistics were good enough to place him on the All-Big Ten first team, by the media. He was alongside 2021 draft-eligible standout Rondale Moore and over Indianapolis Colts 2019 second-round selection Parris Campbell.
The Path Ahead
Minnesota is not a football powerhouse, but most notably produced wide receiver, Eric Decker. Decker holds the Gophers records for career receptions at 227 and receiving yards at 3,119. Johnson’s totals have him needing 100 receptions and 1,132 receiving yards to tie Decker’s 4-year marks. These may seem lofty, but Johnson currently holds the single-season receiving yard mark, which he set during his junior season. A 100 catch, 1,100+ receiving yard and 10+ touchdown is not out of the question for Johnson.
The most impressive part of his incredible junior season was the lack of experience the Gophers trotted out on Saturday’s. Johnson played in seven games with true freshman Zach Annexstad and nine games with redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan. As these young quarterbacks learn and grow, the overall level of play should increase for Minnesota’s passing game, which should subsequently increase Johnson’s 2019 production.
The Tale of the Tape
Tyler Johnson is a very clean prospect on film and leaves very little to be desired from a film evaluation standpoint. Johnson routinely gets off press, is able to win with his technical route running, and utilizes his big frame to the maximum extent. Johnson is also a monster in the run game, which could allow him to dominate snap share early in his NFL career.
Release and Setup
Jeeeez Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson knows how to cook at the LOS. Hesitation release, attacks outside shoulder, plants and slants. Easy 6. pic.twitter.com/5mmx8Z9xTr
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) April 28, 2019
With this release, we can see Johnson threaten the outside shoulder of the cornerback, making the cornerback think the throw will be a jump ball or a fade. Johnson breaks inside after the cornerback’s shoulders have flipped to the sideline, causing the cornerback to have to redirect inside. By the time the cornerback can get his hips going towards Johnson the ball is in Johnson’s hands and Minnesota has six points.
Body Usage and Control
Look at this touchdown reception by Tyler Johnson, WR Minnesota pic.twitter.com/km9u7GPCZe
— Bruce Matson (@MetricScout) December 13, 2018
Tyler Johnson may not be the fastest wide receiver in the 2020 class, but he can use his 6-foot-2 205-pound frame to make up for his lack of straight-line speed. In this clip, Johnson does not get a clean inside release, as the cornerback plays with nice leverage. In the red zone and on third down, Johnson knows he has to win this route. Johnson is able to use his big frame to maintain a clear path to the quarterback and catches the touchdown with the defender draped all over him.
Release and Body Usage
Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson is definitely a name that could rise among the potential loaded 2020 WR class.
Very intriguing prospect. pic.twitter.com/01oRjfcvTL
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) May 2, 2019
Johnson pairs his above-average release ability with his frame and body control to put together this route against Pittsburgh. Once again, we see Johnson threaten the opposite shoulder of the route he wants to run, forces the cornerback to flip his hips opposite of the direction that Johnson is running. As Johnson approaches the back of the end zone, the Gopher quarterback has to deal with the underneath cornerback and the backline of the end zone. Johnson realizes this and slows his body down to act as a shield to the cornerback and lets the quarterback drop the ball into the back corner of the end zone, into Johnson’s outstretched arms for a touchdown.
High Point and Circus Catch Ability
Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson ~~
— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) June 15, 2019
Elite wide receivers need to be able to make every catch that they should, and some that they shouldn’t. Johnson exemplifies making a catch he shouldn’t in this spring game clip. Overall solid defense from the cornerback, but Johnson high points the football with one hand, maintains his balance to stay up and his field awareness to stay in bounds to finish the play with a touchdown.
Here is an end zone shot of this ridiculous play.
This is some filthy combination of Odelling and Mossing by Minnesota's Tyler Johnson 👀 pic.twitter.com/ByTydmt5Ap
— Alex Roux (@arouxBTN) April 13, 2018
Release, High Point, Circus Catch
My biggest draft crush so far. Tyler Johnson from Minnesota. 6’2 & about 205lbs. Had 78rec, 1169 yards & 12 TDs his junior season. pic.twitter.com/nlZeAQyIdf
— Jerry Jeudy stan acct (@AjaySports) July 25, 2019
More of the same here for Johnson, but we can see the complete package of what we can expect in the NFL. An excellent release gets the cornerback to jump inside on his outside route, but a poorly thrown ball from an inexperienced quarterback forces Johnson to use his athleticism to come back and high point the ball. Johnson hangs onto this ball despite the contact from the cornerback and awkward fall.
Yards After Catch
Tyler Johnson is gonna be fun to watch, dude's only been playing WR since getting to Minnesota in 2016. Still developing but has some nice instincts and quickness in addition to that leaping ability. pic.twitter.com/iGp7f8kO9A
— Got That Tea Like Alex Morgan #USWNT (@RossJacksonASC) June 20, 2019
Much like a guard in basketball, Johnson sets up the defender with a nasty dead leg and breaks back leaving the defender in the dust. Johnson picks his way through the traffic and accelerates to the end zone, taking a simple slant 33 yards to the end zone.
— Jason DiRienzo (@allpurposescout) June 25, 2018
This isn’t a play that will score you fantasy points, but it’s a play that gains the trust of the coaching staff and trust of the quarterback. Johnson’s film is littered with excellent run blocking, and this skill should allow him to see a higher snap share early in his career.
Tyler Johnson shouldn’t creep into the top five of the 2020 rookie draft, due in part to the incredible RB depth of that class. Acquiring a high first-round pick in 2020 is nearly impossible, but Johnson is an excellent mid-to-late first-round selection that possesses the ability to be a dominant WR1 for an NFL team.
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