The WR1 of Stashes
Matt Nein / @mnein9
There is no shortage of deep WR targets to choose from while looking at all the superior talent the NFL has to offer. However, choosing the best WR of this group was easy. Collin Johnson of the Jacksonville Jaguars has put together what is being called the best WR camp some coaches have ever seen.
Collin Johnson is The WR1 of Stashes.
Collin Johnson is one of, if not the biggest WR in the NFL. Standing at 6’6’’ and weighing 222lbs, he has the build to be a problem for NFL defensive backs. The average height of the Jaguars WR unit is 6’1” and the average height of the Jaguars DB unit is 5’11”. Obviously, Johnson won’t be playing against his own defense, but as the season gets underway it is a good way to gauge how much bigger he actually is since he stands almost two heads taller than everyone else. Johnson was asked about his height after being selected by the Jaguars and this is what he said:
“They mentioned mismatching my height with stuff and things like that, but obviously you can’t teach height. You know I’m thankful to be as tall as I am, but also I feel like a part of my game that I’m really good at is my route running, so I feel like I have more than just being a tall receiver.”
It is interesting to note that Johnson is very mature for his age for being a rookie. Not often do you find a rookie who is aware of his limitations and yet knows how he can overcome them.
Johnson was unable to participate at the NFL combine due to a hip flexor injury but feels very confident he could have run a 4.5 40-yard dash. He was also unable to participate in his Pro Day at Texas due to the coronavirus because the event was canceled.
The University of Texas:
Collin Johnson was a Texas standout during his college football career.
He started 1 game and played in all 9 games during his freshman year. Johnson was 5th on the team in receptions with 28 catches, however, the team leader in receptions had only 34. Further, Johnson was behind the team leader in receiving yards by only 105 yards. Texas had a very bad year in 2016; nevertheless, Johnson was heavily involved as a freshman.
Johnson started 9 of 13 games during his sophomore year. He led the team in receiving yards as well as receptions in 2017. He was tied for 2nd in receiving TDs.
His junior year, however, was more of a roller coaster. After a bad stretch of games in 2018, Johnson was demoted to WR2 and passed by Lil’Jordan Humphrey on the depth chart. Johnson finished 2nd on the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs behind Humphrey. If it had not been for poor play, Johnson could have easily led the team again his Junior year. New Head Coach Tom Herman was looking at Johnson to lead this team and needed him to be humbled.
Johnson was projected by many, after his junior year, as a potential 1st round pick but he was more likely a 2nd round pick. Johnson chose to return to Texas for his senior season and wait one more year before entering the NFL draft.
Johnson came off of his humbling junior year and was ready to lead his team as the alpha WR. Unfortunately, his senior season would be plagued by injuries. Johnson sustained a non-contact knee injury in a November practice that would require surgery to 'clean the knee up’. During his senior season, Johnson only played in 7 games out of a possible 13. Nevertheless, he would finish 2nd on the team in receptions and receiving yards. For a guy who missed half the season but still finished second on the team in all major receiving categories is very impressive. This speaks to how dominant he is when he is on the field. If Johnson had played all 13 games, there is a good chance he would have led the team in all receiving categories again. Devin Duvernay was the leader in those categories that year.
Johnson entered the NFL draft after his senior season and was projected to be a 3rd round selection. Johnson was selected with the Jaguars 5th round pick, 165th overall.
Training camp has come to end as we enter week 1 of the NFL 2020 season and some of the Jaguars staff are still in awe of the camp performance Collin Johnson put together. His camp performance helped him land a roster spot on the Jaguars 53-man squad. One staff member said that “if there was an All-Pro training camp team, Johnson would have been a first ballot.”
(Video Credit: @JeffBarker_)
Johnson may have a limited role to start the season, but reports suggest he is pushing Conley and Cole for playing time. Since he is 6’6’’, he could see playing time in the red-zone early in the year and a larger role could then develop as the season progresses. Remember, the rookies had no offseason and no preseason games to adjust to the speed of the NFL, so there will definitely be growing pains along the way.
One of the best things about Johnson that the Jaguars fell in love with was the fact the he could run some very crisp routes. There seems to be this narrative that tall WRs struggle to run routes and that is simply not that case with Johnson.
Take a look as this clip from a Senior Bowl practice.
That is one hell of a route for a guy that is 6’6”. Very smooth, very clean, loose in the hips, and he does a great job of shifting his weight to sell the defender one way and then he breaks the other way.
Here is another rep from camp.
(Video Credit: @Demetrius82)
Johnson gets to the top of his route quickly and ‘sits’, then breaks towards the sideline for a completion. Again, for someone of his height, being able to sink his hips that low is impressive. This is no doubt something that he has worked hard on since he doesn’t have blazing speed. There are many different ways for a WR to get open and crisp route running mixed with his size could prove to be a lethal combination.
Another trait that separates Johnson from a typical WR is his willingness to make some ridiculous diving caches and put his body on the line. His length obviously helps him, but his team first attitude is what makes him special.
Here is a great example of this from training camp. This is a catch that 90% of NFL WRs do not make.
(Video Credit: @_John_Shipley)
His former HC, Tom Herman was quoted saying:
“He can high-point the football as well as anyone I've been around, and he's got great body control and ball skills. He's an improved route-runner for a guy who is 6-6. He can get in and out of his cuts and is a ferocious blocker. He swallows people up with his size and length."
I have been stressing the same sentiments about Chase Claypool. A WR that can block is vitally important to a team. Even though he may not currently be the best WR on the team, his ability to block will lead to a high snap count, and with a high snap count, the targets will come.
The Jaguars are intent on molding Johnson into a ‘much needed big target’ for Minshew.
The Jaguars currently have 6 WRs on their 53-man roster.
Star WR, DJ Chark, has 2 years remaining on his current deal. I fully expect the team to sign him to a mega extension at some point keeping Chark as the focal point of the Jaguars passing game.
2nd round rookie WR, Laviska Shenualt, is signed through the next 4 years and as of right now seems to be the Jaguars WR2.
Keelan Cole is on the last year of his deal and will become an UFA next offseason. I do not think the Jaguars will bring him back.
Chris Conley is also on the last year of his contract. Conley could be a mid-season trade candidate depending upon how Collin Johnson develops. If he is not traded, I do not expect the Jaguars to retain him past this season.
Dede Westbrook is not only on the last year of his deal but was rumored to be on the outside looking in of the Jaguars 53-man roster. Westbrook has a very real chance of being moved before the trade deadline but if he is not traded, he will become an UFA next offseason. I do not expect the Jaguars to retain Westbrook past this season.
Finally, Collin Johnson is signed through the 2023 season, and with such a strong showing in training camp, there is a very good chance that he is the reason that the team may trade or not re-sign Cole, Conley, and Westbrook. Johnson should see quite a bit of playing time this season since the Jaguars are entering a full rebuild. He could become the WR3 as soon as the end of this season. I am sure the Jaguars want to see how he develops as they move into next offseason.
Since there is still some uncertainty surrounding the exact role that Johnson will play right now, he is an excellent candidate for your taxi squad. There is a chance he is still available on the waiver wire in your league but if not, I would recommend sending out trade offers for him. In my opinion, he is worth a 3rd round pick.
As I mentioned before, the Jaguars are entering into a full-blown rebuild and they kept more rookies on their 53-man roster than any other NFL team. I expect the Jaguars to be in a negative game script every single game and to throw often under new OC, Jay Gruden. With the expiring contracts of Conley, Cole, and Westbrook, the Jaguars will want to see the potential they have in Johnson before the season is over. Johnson could be the WR3 and the primary red-zone target for the Jaguars moving into 2021. Collin Johnson is the best WR stash out there.
(Picture Credit: @PhotoBowles)