TCU’s Quentin Johnston is not a first round talent


Photo by TCU Athletics

Quentin Johnston hauling in a pass for TCU.

Ethan K.

Following a miraculous run in the College Football Playoff (CFP), TCU’s Quentin Johnston watched his draft stock rapidly accelerate.

Now looked at as an early first round talent, Johnston can expect himself to be a top 20 selection come the 2023 NFL Draft, but that simply should not happen.

Despite obtaining all the physical attributes to succeed in the big leagues, the former Horned Frog poorly utilizes his out-of-this world athleticism. For a 6’4” wideout with the primary role of being a deep-ball receiver, Johnston is incredibly underwhelming when it comes to hauling in jump balls and winning 50-50 contested catches. A good quarterback will make a living off of these types of receivers, but that task gets much harder when their target fails to elevate (look at Chase Claypool’s lack of success in Pittsburgh this year as evidence).

Additionally, the most obvious downside of Johnston’s game is the frequency of body catches. He seems to lack the magnetic hands that can transform a good receiver into a great one, and considering his other flaws, this is a bigger issue than it appears on the surface. A player that already struggles with drops cannot be this reliant on his body to secure passes, however this can be taught and Johnston could quickly adjust to hauling in passes with his body more.

The main area that Johnston needs to improve on, though, is surely his route running. 

While catching with the hands not the body can be taught, good footwork is much more difficult to train. TCU had Johnston running a limited route tree, but his lack of sharp cuts and deceptive movements made weaker corners able to stick by his side. Part of this issue can be attributed to ankle issues that he faced later in the season but, even in 2021 when he was completely healthy, the tall target’s routes were not nearly as crisp and smooth as an NFL scout would hope for. 

As for the positives, natural athleticism is easily the biggest factor in Johnston’s successes. With electric speed, good elusiveness and the aforementioned size, Johnston should be a solid NFL receiver. In open space he is a challenging cover, as his Garrett Wilson-esc ability to extend plays allows for him to contribute more to the Horned Frog offense and is his biggest plus heading into the pros. 

On the other hand of that argument, Johnston lacks effort on the majority of plays that he is not involved in. This resulted in a plethora of running plays that succeeded minimally due to poor blocking on the outside. Much like the issue of catching with his body, this is a fairly simple fix, but it is worrisome to see, as this attitude would translate to an abysmal time in the NFL, where great blockers like Pittsburgh’s George Pickens have thrived.

To recap, much of Quentin Johnston’s game is that of a very naturally talented receiver, but his lack of effort, footwork and body catches make him more of an intriguing prospect than initially thought. I see a lot of Josh Gordon in Johnston’s game, considering the deep ball success, blazing speed but, more importantly, the body catches, one of the major knocks on the TCU wideout.

Despite that comparison, Johnston is truly a unique player to watch, as his polarizing performances make it difficult to project his success. I genuinely would not take him in the first two rounds as I lean towards seeing him as a potential bust, considering teams will not pass on his upside in the first round, although he should not be considered a first rounder, not to mention mid second-rounder.