By Charlie Campbell
Summary: While Johnston never produced huge statistical seasons, he was a playmaker for the Horned Frogs over the past two years. In 2021, he caught 33 passes for 612 yards and six touchdowns. Johnston played with some nagging injuries in 2022 that caused him to miss some time, but the junior played well when on the field, hauling in 60 receptions for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns.
For the NFL, Johnston is a tall, strong, and has surprising speed for a big receiver. His size makes him a red-zone weapon and should provide a mismatch at the next level. However, he has enough speed to generate separation and some surprising twitch for a tall, thick wideout. Johnston can run well to work on defenses downfield and threaten them at all levels. He is a long-strider with a second gear who can explode in the open field, possessing the sheer speed to run away from defenders. That advantage will be diminished somewhat in the NFL, but there is no doubt that Johnston has above average speed for a big wide receiver.
Johnston’s size and speed result in him being a dangerous yards-after-the-catch receiver, which he put on display over the past two seasons. On end arounds and short receptions, Johnston shows good vision and cutting ability to weave his way through the defense, helped by a burst to accelerate into the open field. Johnston is dangerous red-zone threat given his length, leaping ability, and strong hands. Similarly, he is very tough to cover along the sideline thanks to his size and body control.
“He’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and can win on all three levels,” said an AFC area scout. “He puts up 20 yards per catch, runs great routes, is super smart, an alpha, and the hardest worker on the team.”
Johnston looks like a future No. 1 NFL receiver who could lead a potent passing attack. Team sources say they think Johnston could be a high first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and has the potential to end up as a top-10 pick. He should not fall beyond the first 25 selections of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: A.J. Green. Some team sources have said that Johnston’s skill set is similar to Green coming out of Georgia in 2011. If Johnston can stay healthy, he could be an elite receiver like Green was in his prime years for Cincinnati.
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