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Chargers draft uber-athletic TCU WR in new 2023 mock

Johnston helped TCU run all the way to the CFP National Championship.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“Speed” is a word you’re going to be hearing a lot of when it comes to the Chargers and what they’ll be looking for on offense during this draft season. Mainly, fans hope that comes via an explosive wide receiver early on in this year’s draft.

In Daniel Jeremiah’s second edition of his 2023 first-round mock draft, the NFL Network analyst has the Chargers selecting dynamic TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston with the 21st-overall selection.

“Speed on the outside has been a missing element for the Chargers,” says Jeremiah. “Johnston fills that need.”

In his final year with the Horned Frogs, Johnston set career highs with 60 receptions and 1,067 receiving yards with six touchdowns. He left TCU with 2,190 yards and averaged over 19.0 yards per reception across three seasons.

Ahead of next week’s NFL Combine, the murmurs around the scouting world is that Johnston is expected to run a sub-4.40 in the forty-yard dash, on top of testing well across the other gauntlet of events. Off the bat, that probably sounds pretty good to Chargers fans.

However, we don’t want to have the Bolts go through a situation similar to John Ross. Speed isn’t all that matters.

For his 6’4, 215-pound size, Johnston offers a surprisingly full release toolbox. He understands how to attack leverage at the line of scrimmage and those advantages gained are then capitalized upon with his athleticism. If he truly runs in the 4.3s, any misstep by a defender could lead to a big gain.

In the short to intermediate parts of the field, Johnston excels with in-breaking routes where his quick change-of-direction and understanding of zone windows allow him to be a safety blanket for scrambling quarterbacks. One of Johnston’s favorite moves is a fake head nod on curl and comeback routes where he gets defenders to commit to the tackle on the wrong hip before he turns out the other way for extra yards.

On the other side, Johnston does not possess ideal contested catch production for someone with his size and athletic profile. He far too often catches deep passes into his chest and needs to get more comfortable extending to highpoint passes. Another area where he must improve is minimizing his chest at the line to mitigate how often physical defenders can get into his chest and disrupt his releases.

As a rookie with the Chargers, Johnston would be able to come along slowly as a deep threat initially before stepping into a role as a potential WR1 on this team. A year behind both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams could benefit him greatly as both veterans would be able to help him improve upon one of his shortcomings.