Cowboys draft prospects scouting reports for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Name: Quentin Johnston
Weight: 215 pounds
Quentin Johnston joined the Horned Frogs with great expectations, but he didn’t really live up to them until this year. As a four-star recruit out of Temple, Texas, Johnston was heavily pursued by several blue blood programs. He ultimately chose TCU, and found an early role on the offense.
Despite playing as a true freshman, Johnston didn’t take over the game right away. In his first two years, Johnston was primarily used as a deep threat, with nearly 45% of his targets coming on throws over 20 yards down the field. But with new head coach Sonny Dykes, and Broyles Award winning offensive coordinator Garrett Riley, bringing the Air Raid to TCU in 2022, Johnston’s role evolved in a big way.
That led to a breakout year for Johnston, who has now positioned himself as one of the top receivers in this draft with a very good chance to be selected in the first round. His size, play style, and Texas roots make him an obvious target for the Cowboys, as well.
Route Running: Players with the size that Johnston has are usually weak route runners, but Johnston is the exception to that rule. He’s not among the draft’s top route runners, but he more than holds his own. He’s at his best against zone coverage, as he has a great sense of how to move between zones and maintain great leverage to get himself open.
Hands: Drops have been a recurring problem for Johnston, though they tend to come in spurts. Only five other receivers in this draft class had more drops per reception than Johnston. But when he’s not going through a drop issue, which is most of the time, he has a great catch radius and displays good physicality at the catch point.
Playmaking Ability: Johnston’s first two seasons at TCU featured a limited role, but one that saw him work almost exclusively as a big-play receiver. To that end, he did very well, and continued to show those traits this year; five of Johnston’s six touchdowns were on throws over 20 yards.
Release: Johnston has work to do in this regard, as defenses managed to best him with well executed press man coverage. Georgia effectively erased him completely in the national title game, limiting Johnston to just one catch for three yards. Given his size and speed, he should be better with his release, but it’s something he’ll desperately need to fix at the next level.
Run After Catch: This is where Johnston makes you forget about all of his weaknesses, because he’s an absolute demon in the open field. His 8.9 yards after the catch per reception are the best of any receiver in this draft, and ranked second in the nation this year. He is rumored to have run a 40 yard dash in 4.3 seconds, and it definitely looks like that on tape. He’s a home run threat from anywhere on the field once the ball is in his hands.
Blocking: Like with his release, Johnston should be much better as a blocker. He has the frame to hold up well, but just doesn’t get the necessary leverage often enough. Part of the problem is also how little he was asked to block.
Versatility: Johnston is primarily an outside receiver, lining up there on nearly 85% of his snaps at TCU. He might benefit from occasional use out of the slot to give him more free releases, but he is most comfortable out wide where he can use the sideline to his advantage.
Size: He has great size and length at 6’4” but doesn’t carry bad weight with him. He has legitimate burner speed with the size to win 50/50 balls with regularity. The trade-off is that Johnston isn’t a physical, out-muscle-you type of receiver like Dez Bryant was. Still, he makes it work.
Intangibles: Johnston really only has one year as a full-time starter, making his analysis reliant on projection. He’s shown flashes over all three years that suggest he can become a dominant playmaker at the next level, but he’s not as finished a product as others in this draft. His future depends largely on how much he can still grow from here, which is hard to determine at this point.