A number of highly-touted NFL prospects who appeared to be early first-round locks throughout their pre-draft lead-ups -- notably quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (the 24th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft) and Lamar Jackson (the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft -- fell to the back half of their draft's opening round. This also could be the case for TCU wide receiver , who wasn't invited to attend the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City on April 27, a source close to Johnston tells CBS Sports. The players at his position who are Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Boston College's Zay Flowers, and USC's Jordan Addison.
The reason Johnston didn't get an invitation appears to be that the NFL is looking to spare him the Rodgers or Jackson treatment, where the television cameras continue cutting to Johnston and his table during a slide down as the first round gets underway. Johnston did receive feedback from the league that he is still projected to be a first-round pick, the source said. However, the range for his likely selection at this moment appears to be in the "20-28" pick range.
Many teams picking in that portion of the draft could be in the market for Johnston's services, including the Seattle Seahawks (20th overall pick), Los Angeles Chargers (21st overall pick), Baltimore Ravens (22nd overall pick), Minnesota Vikings (23rd overall pick), New York Giants (25th overall pick), Dallas Cowboys (26th overall pick), and the Buffalo Bills (27th overall pick). The Bills are an interesting option given they're reportedly to help out Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. The Cowboys being in that range could lead to Johnston playing his NFL games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, just a 25-minute drive from TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth where he played his collegiate home games.
While Johnston had his suit lined up from his shoes to his cologne for attending the draft in Kansas City, he's still going to celebrate taking the next step in his football journey on April 27 with a party in Dallas.
"I don't really have any problem with it [not having control over which NFL team will draft him]," Johnston said at TCU's Pro Day on March 30. "When you're making that [college] decision, it was kind of hard at that time, potentially choosing the next step to kind of start to push you off into the rest of your life. Now, I did a lot of work and I'm just waiting for somebody to pick me, and whoever picks me, I will be really happy with [them]."