Cardinals sixth-round rookie receiver KeeSean Johnson earned enough praise in spring minicamps to start drawing some eyeballs. The 6-foot-1 wideout looked solid in the Cardinals' new offense, reportedly playing better than fellow rookies Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler. A quick accelerator with good size and hands, Johnson could find playing time sooner than later and might be worth keeping an eye on. While he's not ready for seasonal drafts just yet, he is worth a late pick in long-term keeper leagues and a top-30 pick in rookie-only drafts.
Johnson is making a case for the No. 3 receiver job in Arizona, ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss reports. Weinfuss believes the sixth-round pick has stepped ahead of second-round selection Andy Isabella, while Scott Bordow of The Athletic simply notes that both rookies should have spots in four-receiver sets. It seems a bit early to make assumptions, with Trent Sherfield, Damiere Byrd and Kevin White (hamstring) also in the mix to earn snaps. Johnson hasn't exactly torn it up through two preseason games, catching five of 10 targets for 52 yards. Sherfield has brought in five of six passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns, and Isabella has one catch for a 59-yard score on four targets. The third week of the preseason should provide some insight.
Johnson caught three of six targets for 23 yards during Thursday's 33-26 loss to Oakland. Johnson showed a little bit of rhythm with Kyler Murray early in the game, snagging an eight-yard pass underneath and coming down with a shot downfield that was called back for offensive pass interference. The Cardinals loaded up on young targets in the draft, so there might have been some surprise associated with Johnson -- a sixth rounder -- not being buried on the depth chart. Johnson can hold his own, though, leaving Fresno State as the school's career leader with 275 catches and 3,463 yards, and could be a solid depth option in Arizona's open attack.
Johnson brought in two of four targets for 29 yards in the Cardinals' 17-13 preseason win over the Chargers on Thursday. Johnson got his preseason off to a solid start, playing right from the opening series but failing to come up with his only target from Kyler Murray. However, the rookie wideout bounced back to snare two of his last three targets and flash some of the ability that he's displayed in training camp. The Fresno State product is fighting to carve out a No. 3 or No. 4 receiver spot and will look to continue making his case against the Raiders in the Cardinals' second preseason game next Thursday.
Johnson is listed as the backup to starting wide receive Christian Kirk on the Cardinals' first depth chart of training camp, Darren Urban of the team's official site reports. Johnson isn't expected to surpass Kirk in almost every case, but more notably the 2019 sixth-rounder is listed ahead of fourth-round rookie Hakeem Butler. Such a scenario has been made possible by Johnson's performance throughout camp to date. Among his big plays was a 65-yard touchdown on a deep ball from backup QB Brett Hundley during 11-on-11 work at Tuesday's practice, per Kyle Odegard of the team's official site. With Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald locked into starting roles, there are still one or two regular spots up for grabs in the new air raid offense. If Johnson can prove effective as an outside receiver, he could make an impact right away as a pro.
The Cardinals selected Johnson in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, 174th overall. The Fresno State product is yet another weapon for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals after Arizona already took Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler. Johnson is a different type of receiver from those other two; he checks in as an average-sized receiver (6-foot-1, 201) with below-average speed (4.60 40-yard dash). That lack of eye-popping athleticism didn't stop him from racking up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Bulldogs. He's a smooth route runner who will start out as a depth option for the Cardinals, but he has some tools that could help him develop into a starter down the line.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|7||10/20||@New York Giants||10||20.75|
|8||10/27||@New Orleans Saints||31||26.67|
|9||11/01||San Francisco 49ers||30||26.13|
|10||11/10||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28||25.00|
|11||11/17||@San Francisco 49ers||30||26.13|
|13||12/01||Los Angeles Rams||19||22.05|
|17||12/29||@Los Angeles Rams||19||22.05|