There’s no coincidence that SMU has become a must-stop for scouts looking for quick receivers since the arrival of head coach June Jones in 2008. His spread attack has worked wonders with the Mustangs, just as it did at Hawaii -– and he’ll tell you that the talented quarterbacks and receivers that he’s had deserve a lot of the credit. Now former SMU stars Emmanuel Sanders, Aldrick Robinson and Cole Beasley are all on NFL squads, and Johnson has the same quickness from the slot to go with excellent hands, even if his size will hinder his draft status.
His slight frame kept him a three-star prospect from Texas’ Missouri City High School, but even in limited playing time in his first year on campus (11-104, one touchdown in five games) he landed on the Freshman All-Conference USA team. Earning 10 starts in 13 games as a sophomore, Johnson increased his production (78-845, six TD) and garnered team Armed Forces Bowl MVP honors with his nine-catch, 152-yard, one-touchdown performance in the loss to Army. Johnson then received first-team All-Conference USA accolades as a junior by crossing the 1,000-yard mark as a full-time starter (79-1,118, 8 TD) and was again the team’s MVP of their bowl game (7-120, TD in BBVA Compass Bowl win over Pittsburgh). As a senior, Johnson caught 64 passes for 787 yards and five touchdowns. He earned second-team All-Conference USA honors.
Tough-minded multi-use receiver. Sets up opposition with stutter step then quick burst inside to create separation on a slant route. Tracks the ball well. Good striding long speed, makes a difficult fingertip catch in full stride. Absorbs contact in routes well for size. Not afraid to leave feet over the middle of the field. Comes out of his breaks well. If given the seam can take a short pass all the way.
Not really fluid with routes, stutters when path is obstructed. Has too many hitches in routes and steps. Not a run blocker, prefers to run the coverage away. Won’t create space with physicality. Very thin build, have to wonder if success will translate due to his lack of overall strength.
The next slight but quick slot receiver from June Jones’ spread attack at SMU is on his way to the NFL, with Johnson following in the footsteps of Emmanuel Sanders, Aldrick Robinson, and Cole Beasley. The 2011 first-team All-Conference USA selection (79 receptions, 1,118 yards, eight TD in 2011) has good hands to go along with good quickness and some toughness. Johnson might be a late round selection, or a heavily recruited undrafted free agent.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.