The Los Angeles Chargers selected wide receiver Quentin Johnston with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Here's what you need to know about how his Fantasy stock in both season-long and Dynasty formats is affected by his landing spot.
Johnston's Fantasy fit with Chargers
Although it may have not been the most ideal landing spot for immediate redraft value, it's no surprise the Chargers selected Johnston. GM Tom Telesco loves and prioritizes bigger wide receivers and now he's got himself three of them after adding Johnston.
Johnston offers something different than both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and that's true vertical speed. Although Johnston's 40-yard dash wasn't as fast as people hoped for, his long stride length shows up on tape and allows him to win on the vertical plane. Go watch his game film against Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents, who is likely to be a top-60 pick, and you'll see exactly what I mean.
There's nothing this Chargers offense needed more than a true vertical threat and Johnston will play that role in Year 1. He will also help improve their ability to create yards after the catch on mesh routes and deep overs -- my favorite trait in Johnston's profile is his ability to create after the catch. Johnston is a sleeper wide receiver for me in redraft as a bet on traits pick. The volume may not be there, but the touchdowns could come early in Year 1.
This wide receiver class is so wide open at the top that it's more difficult to predict a definitive Dynasty outlook for Johnston, but a 6-foot-4, 215 receiver with (likely) 4.4 testing speed is likely to be the first receiver drafted in rookie drafts. I see him as a middle of the first round draft pick in one-QB Dynasty leagues and a late first-round pick in 2QB/SuperFlex leagues. He'll be more of a long-term fit than short term after joining a Chargers team that brings back Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but they can find use for his speed right away with a quarterback like Justin Herbert.
Quentin Johnston: What to know
Johnston was the X receiver for TCU and his presence on every snap altered the way defenses played against TCU's offense from a schematic standpoint. When you have the kind of size-speed combination Johnston has, defenses have to account for you on every play. When Johnston first burst onto the scene as a freshman, teams didn't have film on him and he leveraged his long stride speed, racking up a ridiculous 22.1 yards per catch average.
Flashing early at the collegiate level is one of the benchmarks I often look for when evaluating prospects. Other analysts have done studies on this and have even coined the term "breakout age" to describe it but it boils down to the ability to dominate at a young age vs. (on average) older competition as a predictive factor in what a player can become. Johnston was able to dominate early.
Johnston could be the first receiver called in the 2023 NFL Draft because ultimately the draft is a projection based on production, film and traits. He is unlikely to be my WR1 in this class, and we'll get to why below, but he'll immediately be a chess piece for whichever team he joins. He will align as the X receiver at the NFL level, just like he did at TCU, and his size/speed combination will force opposing defensive coordinators to roll coverage over the top his way often. Whether or not he functions as a coverage magnet or a target magnet will be the deciding factor in whether or not he will be the next A.J. Green as a rookie from a Fantasy Football success standpoint. And whether or not he refines his route running -- specifically in the red zone -- will determine whether or not he'll be the next draft hit or the next Kevin White.
Age as of Week 1: 22 | Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 215 | 40-time: 4.50 *At Pro Day
Comparable body-type to: Kevin White
We're breaking down everything you need to know about Johnston from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
- Long-stride runner. One of the traits I look for with taller receivers is their stride length and Johnston has the ability to chew up space fast once he gets going on the vertical route tree.
- He has the frame. Johnston possesses the size and length you look for at the wide receiver position, specifically as the X receiver. And that's what he'll play at the NFL level (though he did perform well in some rare reps as the slot at TCU).
- Special footwork at the catch point. Johnston creates space to allow for yards after the catch with his agility and quick-moving feet.
- Incredibly fluid athlete, specifically in his lower half, for such a long wide receiver prospect.
- Yards. After. The. Catch. You look at Johnston and assume he's a one-trick pony, but he has the agility, footwork and stop-and-start acceleration to create yards after the catch in spite of his long frame.
- Can beat both man and zone coverage, but is better when facing off coverage from the cornerback due to his explosion off the line of scrimmage.
- Release package off the line of scrimmage is much more advanced than bigger-bodied prospects we've seen come up in recent years from N'Keal Harry to Kevin White.
- Great at creating yards after the catch on stick routes and routes that break back to the line of scrimmage. He has a plan, the stop and start acceleration and the quick-feet to speed turn and create space for more yards after the catch.
- Johnston does an above-average job tracking the ball in the air on vertical routes down the field.
- Excellent body control and contact balance despite his lengthy frame -- these traits also project to find him success after the catch at the next level.
- Johnston does a good job finding space whether it's on the stick routes or the mesh/drag concepts where he's running into space.
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- For such a big receiver, Johnston is not an elite contested-catch receiver. He can do a much better job using his frame, length and physicality to box out defenders and come down with 50/50 balls.
- Johnston is not a consistent hands catcher of the football yet and he often allows the pass to come into his body rather than attacking it with his hands. This led to drops.
- If turning Johnston into a hands catcher is priority one, then route refinement will be priority No. 2 for whichever receivers coach gets a chance to work with him at the NFL level. Johnston has all the physical traits to be a plus route runner but he needs refinement. You'll see him round out stick routes at times and not attack the football.
- Also, in the red zone, Johnston needs to work on his ability to sell his routes better to create the separation needed in tight red zone spaces. He topped out at six touchdowns in a single season -- not anywhere near the number you're hoping to see from a red-zone weapon at his size.
- He didn't face it often in the Big 12, but Johnston needs to refine his ability to defeat press man coverage.
Advanced stats to know
- Johnston had just a 34.8% contested catch rate in 2022, per PFF. This number is very low specifically for a player with his frame.
- Johnston had eight dropped passes in 2022 alone.
- 19 forced missed tackles in 2022, tied for 11th-most, per PFF.
- 184 yards in 2022 on screen passes.
- 427 yards on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air.
Johnston reminds me in a lot of ways of former Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant from his body type to his ability to win in the vertical passing game. While Bryant was also better after the catch than most remember, Johnston has a different level of post-catch ability due to his foot agility and ability to stop-and-start. If he can add more physicality to his game, refine his route running and become a consistent hands catcher, Johnston can evolve into a much more complete receiver than Bryant ever was.