Every year, there’s always some under-the-radar wide receiver who flashes in training camp to where fans start feeling he’ll make the team. Most recently, it was Lance Lenoir. While the hype builds throughout camp, once it comes time for final cuts, those young receivers end up being left off the final roster. Making some head turning plays in camp is great, but for these inexperienced players, consistency is key. And ultimately when the coaching staff configures their 53-man roster, these types of flaws are deal breakers.
This year is no different. There are a slew of young receivers that are already buzzing, so it’s back to the same story we’ve been reading every year. From undrafted free agents to some well-traveled players who have yet to stick where they go, the Cowboys have a pretty good group of young receivers fighting for a roster spot.
For example, Reggie Davis is having a nice camp. The former Georgia Bulldog is entering his third season. He’s bounced around on four other teams before signing with Dallas. This isn’t his first training camp, and that could give him an edge over the newcomers. Davis is making plays and had great catch on Monday where he flew down the right side of the field and then turned his body right as the ball arrived to haul in the pass.
North Texas’ Jalen Guyton is also performing well. One of his knocks coming out of college was that he struggled against physical corners, but he’s been doing a good job creating separation in camp. He had a nice over the shoulder catch from Cooper Rush on Tuesday.
As well as those two young receivers have been playing, there is one guy who is starting to separate himself from the pack - Jon’Vea Johnson.
Johnson is a big playmaker. His 4.3 speed helped him average 20.6 yards per catch during his final season at Toledo, scoring a touchdown on every 4.75 catches. His speed adds a nice element to the Cowboys offense and it was on display this week. On Monday, he flew by Chris Westry (who’s also fast) like he was standing still.
Johnson has the wheels to go get balls. On Thursday it appeared Dak Prescott overthrew him as he was being covered step-for-step by rookie Michael Jackson. But then, Johnson put it in another gear and flat out ran down the pass to the sound of several cheering fans.
The speed factor is nice, but Davis and Guyton can run well also. To really have a shot to make the team, he’s going to have to show he can run routes so defenses don’t just sit back expecting him to go vertical. Johnson has been doing alright as a route runner, and he was demonstrating that on Thursday.
Thank you so much for catching this, Jon’Vea. pic.twitter.com/7c3rU4FAxm— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 1, 2019
Johnson has been on our radar for some time as we identified him as a potential seventh-round candidate before the draft. There are a lot of intriguing traits to like about him, but often times it takes a while to mold these young guys into NFL-ready players. Johnson is showing a lot of promise so far, and while it’s easy to take the cheese and start buying into the hype of a young shiny new wide receiver, we’ve been fooled before. Of course, over the last 12 years, the Cowboys have always had one of their own UDFA wide receivers (Miles Austin and Cole Beasley) on the roster. Will that end this year or can Jon’Vea Johnson keep that streak going?