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Tyler Johnson NFL draft profile and fantasy projection

Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson has been one of the most productive receivers in college football over the last two seasons. Can he turn that production into NFL success?

Minneapolis, MN-November 8: Minnesota Gophers wide receiver Tyler Johnson celebrated a touchdown by wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell in the first half. Photo by Aaron Lavinsky /Star Tribune via Getty Images

Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson was a quarterback in high school but was switched to wide receiver his freshman season at Minnesota. He had a good sophomore year but missed two games due to a hand injury. He broke out his junior year, catching 78 passes for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. Instead of declaring for the draft, he decided to stay to get his degree and play his senior year, when he followed up his strong junior year with a stronger senior year, garnering 86 receptions for 1,318 yards, and 13 touchdowns.

Scouting Report

Johnson’s physical traits aren’t up to Tier 1 standards, especially in a draft with so many good receivers. Unfortunately for Johnson, he didn’t run drills at the combine, instead electing to do them at Minnesota’s pro day, which was in turn canceled due to coronavirus. He likely didn’t run at the combine due to worry that he wouldn’t test well. He’s not a burner and isn’t going to get a ton of separation in the NFL.

The good news is, that he has great ball instincts, winning 50/50 passes well and is a strong route runner. He should be able to improve on his release in the NFL with some coaching up, as he hasn’t been a wide receiver all that long and likely has some room to grow in technique. His upside could be in the Keenan Allen range, as a slower receiver with great route running and hands, but Allen is every slower receivers goal. He’ll need to work to get there.

Minnesota wide receiver Tyler Johnson has been a polarizing prospect. What is clear on tape is his ability to win in contested situations, physicality and route running technique. With that said, his below average separation quickness and long speed suggests that congested catch points will be the norm for him at the next level. If given free releases from the slot, Johnson should find production. — Joe Marino, The Draft Network

Mock Draft Results

Mel Kiper, ESPN: Not in mock
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: Not in mock
Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports: Not in mock
Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire: Not in mock

Fantasy impact: Rookie year

Johnson has a wide array of draft grades and could go from the second to the fifth round. If he goes in the second round, his chances of seeing playing time early are much better. His best shot at early production is out of the slot in a spread out passing attack. His hands and ability to make catches in traffic could make him fantasy relevant quickly if given the chance, but the odds of him being a starting slot receiver from day one aren’t great.

Fantasy impact: Career

If Johnson is dedicated and continues to improve, he has ability to be a longtime starter in the league. Maybe his best comparable is Mohamed Sanu, who has been a good player and sometimes fantasy asset throughout his career.