In the 2022 offseason, the Chargers had a plan for their wide receiver room. They invested heavily in their top two receivers, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, knowing they’re a dominant tandem in the NFL. Joshua Palmer showed flashes in a rotational role, with enough skill and consistency to fill-in should Allen or Williams miss games to injury. Jalen Guyton had deep ball chemistry with Herbert, and helped round out an otherwise “slower” receiver room, and DeAndre Carter was a return specialist with some receiving upside that could thrive given some opportunity. On paper, the roster construction made sense.
However, the roster construction only made sense if you ignored contingency planning. With Allen and Williams missing significant time, and Jalen Guyton lost for the season after three games, Charger fans saw undrafted free agents not only taking meaningful snaps, but starting games. The burden on Justin Herbert to carry the offense was greatly heightened by an inability to scheme guys open, and for the collection of practice-squad players individually win their assignments.
The Chargers began addressing this issue by hiring Kellen Moore. Moore’s resume speaks for itself, and there is justification that Moore alone will greatly improve a previously stagnant game plan. However, even with Moore at the helm last year, the results would have been questionable with the likes of Carter, Michael Bandy, and Jason Moore replacing Allen, Williams, and Guyton.
Enter Quentin Johnston. With the Chargers first-round pick, they selected Johnston out of TCU, who possesses a very similar athletic profile to Mike Williams with arguably more upside. An eternal optimist may look at this and appreciate that he was actually drafted 14 picks later than Mike Williams, and has the potential to surpass Mike’s production with the Chargers.
Let’s take a look at Mike William’s RAS, with his seventh overall selection in mind:
Mike Williams was drafted with pick 7 of round 1 in the 2017 draft class. He scored a 7.24 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 481 out of 1738 WR from 1987 to 2017. #1KReceiverhttps://t.co/omUOrofMGi #RAS pic.twitter.com/S5xZP2gyTc— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 26, 2021
Follow that up with Johnston, who graded more favorably:
Quentin Johnston is a WR prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 8.65 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 408 out of 3026 WR from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/u1aDqctiFR pic.twitter.com/1TUhDSWzHt— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 10, 2023
Johnston appears to be a more explosive version of Mike Williams. He’s an inch smaller in height, but clears an extra ten inches in his vertical. His ten yard, twenty yard, and forty all show a slightly more explosive athlete, but by a narrow enough margin to see him as a strong player-comp to Williams.
He has been widely praised for having significant run-after-catch ability. He does possess an innate ability to run one of the cleanest buttonhook routes you’ll see in the draft (a huge Kellen Moore plus), and typically manages to look over his shoulder and make his first defender miss.
Here is what Tom Telesco himself said about the pick:
"We wanted Quentin Johnston early on and we're very excited to add him..— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) April 28, 2023
The more weapons we can have for our QB the better and we think he's gonna fit in really well" ~ Tom Telesco#PMSDraftSpectacular pic.twitter.com/2aPF2kLoUm
When Joshua Palmer was drafted, the consensus amongst fans was this must mean Keenan Allen’s replacement arrived, and his time was limited. Yet two years later, here we are. It may feel and seem like the writing is on the wall for Mike Williams in 2024, but for the time being, this Charger fan is going to appreciate that Johnston can come in as a major source of production in year one, and potentially be a WR1 when that time comes, though I don’t wish to rush it.
Quentin Johnston highlights #BoltUp https://t.co/wwLQodDMd7— BOLT⚡HYPE (@BOLTHYPE) April 28, 2023
Although many fans may have been clamoring for players at another position, be it EDGE, tight end, or cornerback, what we can appreciate is that Justin Herbert will absolutely get the most out of this rookie. This is an amazing day for Johnston, as he arrives on a team with one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league, and sometimes it only takes the right situation to make or break a young player’s career.
Welcome Quentin. You’re a Charger now... welcome to the BoltFam.