Quentin Johnston Scouting Report

In our Scouting Reports, we will give you a quick debrief to get you the information you need to know. We go a step further, providing an in-depth review showing off examples of what we do and don’t like. We’ve included a date from the initial scouting report. Updated notes may get added and dated over the course of the the year. With that, welcome to the Quentin Johnston scouting report!

If you’d like to see more, below are all the completed scouting reports for this season:

QBRBWRTE
Will LevisTank BigsbyJordan AddisonTBD
Spencer Rattler* (2024)Sean TuckerQuentin Johnston
Anthony RichardsonZach CharbonnetJaxon Smith-Njigba
Michael Penix Jr.* (2024)Blake Corum* (2024)Jalin Hyatt
Josh Downs

Quentin Johnston is one of the strongest rising 2023 NFL Draft prospects this year. He possesses some of the best physical attributes of anyone in the draft class, and has had a couple huge games with a few big time catches to further solidify his draft stock. Let’s see how he compares to the other top receivers in the class.

Date: 11.11.2022
Details
: Quentin Johnston | WR | TCU #1
DOB: 09.06.2001 | 21 years old
H/W: 6’ 3″ | 208 lbs

NFL Combine results (updated 03.06.2023):
40-yd dash: N/A
10-yd split: N/A
Vertical jump: 40.5″
Broad jump: 11′ 2″

YearGamesTeamReceptionsRec YardsRec AvgRec TDsRush AttemptsRush YardsRush AvgRush TDs
20208TCU2248720.12331.02
20218TCU3361218.562126.00
202213TCU60106917.863-7-2.30

Projection

NFL Draft Projection (updated 03.06.2023):

Late 1st to Late 2nd Round Pick – Quentin Johnston’s physical tools are outstanding. His frame – 6’3″ 208lbs, 33 5/8″ arm length – coupled with his explosion and ability to get vertical provide him with the tools needed to be an excellent outside/vertical receiver. Many are putting him in the 1st round – even first receiver taken – based on that profile. That said, he’s very raw. A few years ago he may have been a 1st round pick. However, as defenses are shifting to coverage shells which take away 1-on-1 opportunities outside, the need for a good outside vertical receiver is also diminishing. I project that this, a lack of sticky hands, inconsistent use of his physical gifts, and a need for refinement will push him later than people think.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB (updated 03.06.2023):

Mid to Late 1st – An excellent landing spot may look appealing for some in the mid 1st Round, though he’s more of a long-term play than an immediate production kind of guy. With that, I would expect he will be scooped up mid-late 1st Round.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB (updated 03.06.2023):

Mid 1st – Mid 2nd Round Pick – As above, so in SF…except with up-to four QBs pushing his stock down.

Scouting Brief

What stands out first when watching Quentin Johnston is the sheer physical stature as he towers over the cornerbacks tasked to keep him in check. Listed at 6’4″ and 215lbs by TCU, many of the best NFL DBs would look small next to him.

Where this size takes an even bigger leap is in Johnston’s ability to get vertical. According to Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List (Johnston checks in at #23), Quentin had registered a 42″ vertical leap…and that was from before the start of the season. Continued weight training during the season could see that improve before the combine.

The vertical leap is an excellent measure of lower body explosion, and that explosion really shows up when watching Johnston. I saw it most often when exploding out of his release or break and creating separation from a defensive back.

When that explosion gets paired with selling a vertical route, appropriately attacking leverage early in the route, and shielding defenders from the ball after the break, it makes Johnston a conversion and/or touchdown machine.

That’s a big “when” though…

Johnston is still raw as a route runner. It was common to see him attack leverage incorrectly and/or signal the break in advance. This often allowed the defender to slide into his hip pocket, smothering him in coverage, preventing the throw from coming his way.

Even when the occasional 50/50 ball was thrown his way – an area I would expect him to shine – Johnston was often beat by smaller defenders. Whether it was due to poor high-point timing or trying to basket catch when blanketed, he rarely showed a physical dominance that his size and physical stature would suggest.

In a bit of good news, there was clear improvement with his route running between the ’21 and ’22 seasons. His snap down was much improved, he showed improvement in his releases, and he would attack leverage better…though there was also a lot still left on the table.

He doesn’t always give his quarterback a friendly target; sometimes staying put when the play breaks down and rarely coming back to the football. And that’s in addition to still occasionally attacking the wrong leverage and plenty of break signaling (though admittedly at a smaller clip).

Unfortunately, that’s not the worst of it. The biggest knock I’ve seen are his hands. Far too many balls were bobbled, dropped, or went straight through his hands…and that was when he would extend for the ball.

He would often try to make the catch against his body. This caused the ball to rattle and bounce against his pads, making for an even more difficult catch.

I also wouldn’t expect Johnston to be able to supplement his early career with quick hitting RAC routes. Despite the explosion and athleticism noted in the Freaks List article, if he wasn’t already past the defender, he was typically wrapped up without much fuss. YAC from underneath routes just isn’t his forte.

The good news for Johnston is that you can’t teach or build his physical attributes. He has a natural advantage over a number of the other receivers in this draft class.

However, Johnston seems to be a few years late/early for modern NFL defenses. Many modern defenses are shifting to coverage shells which take away deep routes outside, and thus take away his built-in advantages.

While I think he could be effective early in his career attacking zone coverage – an area which he was consistently solid – I still wouldn’t expect early production given all these factors.

A team will likely take a shot on him in the second or third round, hoping to upskill around his physical gifts. Though they should do so expecting a late bloomer.

Detailed Breakdown

Quentin Johnston’s 6’4″ frame, 42″ vertical, and massive wingspan suggests he could be a jump ball extraordinaire.

Standing four to five inches taller than the average defensive back, with a vertical leap an additional four to five inches greater, and lengthy arms which can further stretch that advantage…it would seem he’s the prototypical “go up and get it” receiver for the NFL.

Looking beyond the measuring tape, and at the game tape, there are moments which seem to back this up. Take a look at the clip below for two snippets from the 2021 game against Oklahoma.

In the first clip, we see Johnston going up against Billy Bowman Jr (DB #5). Johnston attacks Bowman’s leverage off the line of scrimmage, throwing a quick jab step inside before breaking back outside on the fade route. Bowman lunges at Johnston trying to slow him down, but Johnston does a great job keeping his frame clean.

Johnston gets into the endzone and allows Bowman, who doesn’t turn to look for the ball, to blow by him. Johnston is able to get vertical and make a nice, uncontested reception for a touchdown.

The second clip, press coverage from Joshua Eaton (DB #1), Johnston throws a split release with a head fake inside. Eaton isn’t fooled by the move as Johnston’s hips didn’t also sell the inside release. He is able to jam Johnston and run the route with Johnston, making this a true 50/50 ball.

Eaton times his jump perfectly, able to truly high-point the football with Johnston. Quentin’s size, however, gives him a natural leverage advantage and he’s able to rip the ball away to secure the touchdown.

Snippets like this give some hope that this could be a huge facet to his game, even in the NFL.

While those clips set the tone that Johnston will be dominant, I found that dominance to be the exception, not the norm.

In the games I watched, I saw more mistimed jumps, basket catches in traffic, and DBs who simply played bigger. Let’s look at a couple more.

Back to the ’21 Oklahoma game, Johnston is up against Bowman (DB #5) again. It’s worth pointing out that Bowman was playing out of position due to injuries (he was the nickel back before this game), and has since been moved to safety for Oklahoma.

Johnston is able to get a step on Bowman and leap above him to make the catch on an underthrown ball. Despite the jump timing, and the height and length advantage, Johnston makes an incredibly difficult basket catch instead of just extending for the ball.

In some cases, there isn’t an option to reach out for the ball. Look closely here though. Johnston’s hands were initially extended above Bowman’s helmet…he chooses to turn them over and catch this ball against his chest.

A seemingly miraculous catch ensues. This catch was made more difficult due to allowing the ball into his body, but Johnston comes down with it anyway. From here, he’s off to the races, beating the defenders who catch up to him too little-too late for a score.

In the second clip, TCU takes on Oklahoma State in 2022. Johnston gets a fade route one-on-one against Jabbar Muhammed (DB #7). Muhammed is ~5’10”, roughly 180lbs, and the most recently measured vertical leap was 30″. On paper, this is a win before the ball is snapped.

Unfortunately, Johnston doesn’t help himself win the route early. He attacks the DBs outside leverage, which only pushes Muhammed further outside and stays in position to defend the route.

Had Johnston attacked inside and tried to turn Muhammed’s hips then cross his face at the break point, he may have had an uncontested catch in the endzone. As it is, he let’s Muhammed in perfect position to defend the pass.

Despite the massive size and vertical advantage, Johnston just gets out played. Muhammed is able to swat this ball away because he plays bigger than Johnston…actual size be damned.

Poor route, no separation, and he gets physically dominated by a much smaller DB. This is an embarrassing rep for Johnston.

NFL front offices don’t just scout for current ability though. Much of it is projection of what the player could be under an NFL coaching staff, weight program, and appropriate scheme.

This is where Johnston could stand out among the crowd. Timing, routes, and hands can be improved. You can’t add inches though, despite whatever those late-night infomercials claim.

Johnston has shown that he has the potential for an elite catch radius. As already noted (multiple times), his height, leaping ability, and long arms give him a physical advantage above-and-beyond what even some of the best NFL talent possess.

I grabbed a couple clips to show off Johnston’s full extension, and thus, his potential catch radius. I tried to freeze frame at the optimal moment…just look at these and imagine the potential if he played to these strengths consistently.

In the first snap, Johnston does a great job closing distance with the DB. He attacks leverage directly, so the DB is forced to turn his hips. Johnston pops up before his break, but throws a nice outside jab to cross in front of the DBs face, and good hand fighting to stay clean. The throw is high, just out of reach. Great extension.

Second snap is a fade on the goal line. Johnston attacks outside vs inside leverage, with a weak double-jab that doesn’t move the corner. The route didn’t get separation, but he maintains distance from the DB with his arms. Another throw too high, somehow out of reach.

For Quentin Johnston, the critical word in “elite catch radius” is “catch”. Unfortunately, Johnston doesn’t have the greatest hands and will need to improve in this area for the next level.

In the games I watched, I saw a number of highly catchable balls bobbled, others slipped right through his hands, and others yet were just outright inexplicably dropped. See the clip below for a few examples.

The first snap is a tunnel screen where the ball is placed right at the numbers ever-so-slightly upfield. The ball hits Johnston in the hands and he bobbles it, securing it against his thigh on his way upfield.

In the second snap, Johnston runs a drive route behind the linebackers but under the safeties. He gets tons of separation when the DB gets caught in the defensive backfield trash.

The ball is a bit underthrown, so Johnston correctly cradles this ball below his waist, but he bobbles it as he tries to secure it.

In the third clip, we see another tunnel screen hit him in the chest…except this one is outright dropped. Same goes for the fourth clip, a drag route which just falls to the ground after hitting him in the hands.

The fifth and sixth clips, we see opportunities for receptions outside the numbers. Unfortunately, the ball goes straight through his hands.

As a result of his unreliable hands, I saw Johnston would often rely on body catches to help him secure the ball. This is common, especially in young receivers without sure hands, but it ultimately leaves more room for error as the ball has the opportunity to bounce off the pads in unpredictable ways.

In the first snap below, we see a great example of Johnston’s leaping ability, as well as his propensity to basket catch in contested situations. We also see a great shot of why body catches are more difficult. The ball bounces off the chest plate and nearly pops out. He does a great job securing it for a huge catch though.

In the second snap, Johnston is running a quick slant route into the endzone. If caught, this is a huge touchdown to potentially put TCU just one score down.

Johnston initially catches the ball against his chest. Once again we have an outstanding camera angle. This time we see why it would have been better for Johnston to secure the ball outside his frame, using his body to box the defender out.

Simply put, this is a missed opportunity…a touchdown if only caught with extension.

Going back to the what front offices look for, and there’s another place where Johnston is just dripping with potential. Explosion.

Johnston has incredible, sometimes dominant first step explosion, especially releasing off the line. When in press, whether jamming or catching, if the defender doesn’t play it perfectly, Johnston can simply blow by them with this explosion.

Below I’ve pulled two clips, both from the ’21 game against Cal, showing clips against different cornerbacks.

In the first snap, he takes a hop step into a split release, bursting inside. What’s remarkable is how wide he gets in just one step. He explodes off the edge of the 4 from the 40 yard marker, stepping two full yards inside, forcing the corner to reach with his jam and get off balance. This makes it easy for Johnston to swipe and burst past him.

Johnston gets on top but never really stacks him, instead just maintaining the separation with pure, effortless speed. The ball is overthrown, but the separation is there and caused almost exclusively due to his first-step burst.

The second snap is nearly identical, except he doesn’t widen to beat the jam, he just explodes past it. In the blink of an eye, he’s created two yards of separation in just three steps. In both snaps – and consistent to his game – he’s a great hand-fighter and keeps his frame clean.

He shows great hands at the catch point here, reeling in a touchdown throw. These clips are huge wins showcasing his potential.

That explosion, if paired with good route running, could help Johnston create space in a consistent manner. The keyword here being consistent. While not common, Johnston does shows flashes of really quality routes.

There was a clear, significant improvement to his snap down between the ’21 and ’22 seasons. I didn’t see many routes which required this during the ’21 season, but when he did attempt it, he wasn’t violent enough at the break point, couldn’t slow fast enough, and had to round his square-breaking routes.

In the first snap below, we see a snap from ’22 against Oklahoma State. Johnston jabs outside, releases inside, and shows a great curl route here. He’s forceful snapping down and showing really fluid hips, turning and leaving the defender struggling to reset.

Johnston commonly signals his route breaks by slowing down and standing up. Savvy defenders will pick up on this, however – in the rare cases where he didn’t (as best I could tell) – he was able to completely turn a defender around.

In the second snap, we see one from ’21 against Oklahoma. The angle is hard to see if he’s slowing and standing, but he clearly sells the vertical route really well as the defender is still facing upfield as Johnston is exploding into his comeback route.

When you see flashes of the potential that Johnston can bring, it’s hard to ignore the receiver he could be.

Unfortunately, even seeing those flashes, there just isn’t enough to warrant a top pick in my opinion. He has a lot to work on with refining his routes, even acknowledging the improvements he made between ’21 to ’22.

For his releases, Johnston really relied on only the essential releases; speed release, split release, and jab or double-jab. He’d throw the occasional diamond release on a slant route, but there really wasn’t a lot of variety despite facing press often.

This will need expansion for NFL routes where space, time, and DBs who read and recover well are all working against him.

He also really needs to work on attacking leverage to set up his routes. Far too often he would play straight into the strength of the DBs leverage. We see this in the first snap of the video below.

Johnston gets off the line and stems his route to the outside. This condenses the space he has to run his comeback and allows the inside-shade DB to keep pushing him to the sideline. He has to push-off in order to create the separation needed to make the catch.

In the NFL, DBs won’t just stick to his hip, they’ll be running his route themselves.

Finally, he needs to get rid of his signals. Nearly every breaking route, he would indicate when he was going to break by slowing down and popping up. We see a clear example in the second snap of the clip below.

NFL DBs will feast on this.

In the third and final snap from the clip below, I found Johnston running a stop and go route. Early in the route, he drives fairly hard then snaps down with violence.

If the DB was playing tighter this probably would have worked by itself. Except the DB is seven yards off. Even though he sinks with Johnston, there’s enough space to recover.

I would have loved to see Johnston take one extra step; maybe not a full turn to sell the curl, but at least some hip rotation to the inside to give the DB a route to actually defend against. Instead, he just snaps down keeping his hips locked forward. From seven yards off, there’s no other route the DB needs to defend except the go.

As for attacking zone coverage, I did notice occasional lapses. However, it seemed to me these lapses happened when Max Duggan (QB #15) was looking to the opposite side of the field.

This doesn’t seem to be an issue of not understanding how to attack zone…rather, an issue of taking plays off.

When it comes to actually attacking zone coverage, Johnston typically does well.

On short routes, he tries to slow down between zones to give himself space and his QB time. On intermediate routes, he sneaks behind the LBs before breaking into his route. One deep routes, he adjusts his route angle to find the soft spot between zones.

In the clip below, we see Johnston fire off the snap, bursting behind the second level defenders before breaking and heading to the soft spot between zones. This is a great job attacking the defender’s blind spots and getting open for his QB.

In the same vein as taking plays off, I also noted Johnston isn’t the most quarterback friendly receiver.

I try to watch whether or not the receiver runs a scramble drill when the play breaks down. Johnston doesn’t do it often. He may find a spot to settle if the QB is coming to his side of the field, but he rarely puts a ton of effort into gaining depth or getting open.

He also can improve coming back to the quarterback. Doing this presents an easier throw while allowing his body to shield the defender from the football. All together, this makes for an easier pitch and catch.

Hands, routes, and physical/athletic profile may be significantly more important to a receiver…but these are still little things which Johnston could refine in order to become a better receiver.

Treylon Burks (scouting report here) was a recently drafted, similarly sized big-body receiver who could win with size and length. Burks went in the 1st Round of the NFL Draft…I don’t think Johnston will have the same draft capital.

One reason Burks went so high, despite being raw in some areas, was his YAC. He was phenomenal with the ball in his hands and could pick up yards like few others. Johnston won’t supplement his early career with YAC opportunities…he’s just not great at it despite solid athleticism.

I’ve got a few examples below. The clip is nothing special, a screen and a couple drags. The point is to show that Johnston just doesn’t compare in his ability (or lack thereof) to get additional yards.

The long and short of it is that Johnston is a raw receiver who has multiple areas of improvement. His elite physical profile inherently gives him a higher ceiling than most other receivers, though taking advantage of these gifts will take years of dedicated work and refinement.

It’s also worth noting the recent trend of NFL defenses playing coverage shells which mitigate 1-on-1 opportunities outside. This will further limit Johnston’s immediate production, and could additionally impact his draft stock.

When factoring all of this, I think a front office will take a shot on him day 2. He’s a high upside guy given his physical and athletic profile, but I don’t think a front office would use a 1st Round Pick on him.

He’ll start his career in the middle of a depth chart and get a handful of snaps per game, but it could take two years (or more) before he really has an opportunity to make an impact. That old “3rd year receiver breakout” adage seems very appropriate for Quentin Johnston.

If this plays out as expected, I don’t plan on using a late 1st Round Rookie Pick on him in fantasy. If he’s available in the 2nd Round I might take a shot as a stash guy. More likely I’ll be looking for a buy-low period after year two. Impatient owners may be willing to give up on him for cheap at this time.

Additional details

Where are you taking Johnston in your draft? Drop a comment in the comment box below to let us know your thoughts!

For more scouting reports, click any of the links below:

QBRBWRTE
Will LevisTank BigsbyJordan AddisonTBD
Spencer Rattler* (2024)Sean TuckerQuentin Johnston
Anthony RichardsonZach CharbonnetJaxon Smith-Njigba
Michael Penix Jr.* (2024)Blake Corum* (2024)Jalin Hyatt
Josh Downs

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2 thoughts on “Quentin Johnston Scouting Report

  • QJ seems like a super upside guy but I felt the same when watching him, athletic freak that needs to improve in a lot of areas to reach his fantasy draft location (a lot of people saying he is their WR1). IMO he is one of those players you let someone else draft and check back on his value in a year or so.

    As a side note, I look forward to these every week, can’t get enough of this draft class and these articles always give me something to think about.

    Reply
    • Great minds think alike :). Thanks so much for reading TB, we’ll keep pumping out quality content as fast as we can!

      Reply

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