NFL Draft

2019 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Buffalo WR Anthony Johnson

From now until the 2019 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#83 Anthony Johnson/WR/6’2 211 lbs

The Good:

  • Lined up out wide and in the slot
  • Good feel and footwork on short routes
  • High points the football well, attacks the ball
  • Has the size to battle against press coverage
  • Uses his hands to beat press coverage well
  • Knows how to use open space to his advantage
  • Contested catch winner
  • Red zone threat
  • Reliable, proven hands

The Bad:

  • Limited route tree
  • Does not have any stand out athletic traits
  • Struggles to create separation
  • Lacks speed
  • Does not have long speed to separate vertically
  • Limited ceiling

Bio:

  • 2018: 57 receptions for 1011 yards and 11 touchdowns, 17.7 yards per reception
  • Career: 133 receptions for 2367 yards and 25 touchdowns, 17.8 yards per reception
  • Transferred to Buffalo before 2016 season from Iowa Western Community College
  • Only has two years of NCAA action after red shirting his first season at Buffalo
  • Led the MAC in receiving yards in 2017
  • Was second in the MAC in receiving yards in 2018
  • Has led the MAC in receiving touchdowns in each of the last two seasons
  • Cousin of Jadeveon Clowney
  • Invited to 2019 Senior Bowl

Tape Breakdown:

Buffalo wide receiver Anthony Johnson has an incredible story behind him. He was a JUCO kid before transferring to Buffalo from Iowa Western Community College in 2016. From there, Johnson redshirted the 2016 season before exploding onto the scene in 2017 and 2018. The former JUCO prospect put his name on the map, leading the MAC in receiving touchdowns in each of the last two seasons while also leading the MAC in receiving yards in 2017. Three years ago, Johnson was playing at a community college, now three years later, he is awaiting his name to be called during the 2019 NFL Draft.

First thing you will notice about the Buffalo wide receiver is how stocky and built he is. Standing at 6’2 and 211, Johnson knows how to use his size to his advantage as his 25 touchdowns will suggest.

Johnson knows how to use his body to shield and create a passing window to catch the football. He is a big threat in the red zone as his physicality and aggressiveness to attack the football make him a mismatch against any corner. Whether it be on back shoulder throws, fade passes or just jump balls, Johnson’s size makes him a trusted option for quarterbacks.

Without a standout trait, Johnson is not the first or second or even third prospect that will catch your eye. Despite his average athleticism, the Buffalo wide receiver made a living off his physical traits which boost his profile. With his 6’2 size and long length, Johnson has an elite catch radius as he can snag a pass from very high points. Not only that but he also comes equipped with very reliable and consistent hands. Out of all the receivers in this class, Johnson is definitely in the top half when it comes to consistently catching the football.

Again, lacking true elite athleticism, Johnson has his work cut out for him at the next level. He struggles to create separation as he is neither exceptionally quick or fast but luckily for him, he does not need much separation to make a catch. Due to his strength, Johnson is able to outmuscle cornerbacks at the point of attack. He is able to hang on to tough snags even with a cornerback on his back and even shows the ability to completely shrug them off.

One thing that is noticeable about Johnson is his limited route tree. In my viewing of his tape, the wide receiver frequently ran short routes or go routes. He ran these from both in the slot or out wide. While his route tree is limited and it may seem surprising to see a receiver with limited athleticism running short routes intended for YAC type receivers, Johnson makes it work as he does have some open field ability. He is not a quick twitch or smooth athlete by any means but he understands how to operate in space.

Johnson has the size capable of beating press coverage and he certainly has the technique. On the play above, the Buffalo wide receiver uses a nifty swipe move and is able to beat the Western Michigan cornerback for an inside release. While the cornerback play will certainly be better at the next level, there is optimism that Johnson can handle what is thrown at him.

One thing that you can not take away from Johnson’s game is that he produces. Despite not having elite speed, quickness or athleticism, the Buffalo wide receiver gets the job done. The biggest question mark in his game is if he will survive in the NFL with his limited ability to create separation. While he was able to win against lesser MAC competition with his physicality, I am not sure if he will have the same amount of success against bigger, faster and better NFL cornerbacks. Johnson may not have high potential but he is a good player and there is nothing wrong with being good.

Projection: Early Day Three

Games Watched: vs Northern Illinois, vs Temple, vs Troy, vs Western Michigan (2017),

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