Has struggled to stay on the field over the past couple seasons due to injury, which as a result has stunted his growth as a route runner. Has a tendency to gear down out of any sharp, outward breaking route and fails to generate a good burst for himself out of his breaks. Also, he consistently chops his feet to gather himself when asked to break inside. Is at his best when asked to run more vertical routes down the field (flag, post, nine) where he does display some suddenness to his game, but even then there is still a definite roll out of his breaks.
Impression: He’s explosive off the line and has a lot of upside and untapped potential to his game, but needs to continue to develop to have a shot to play on the outside at the next level."
Hands: Possesses reliable hands. Looks the ball into his hands and secures it quickly. Shows the ability to extend and pluck outside of his frame. Good concentration to make the diving catch. Locates the ball quickly, showing good concentration to make the catch in traffic or alone. Tracks the ball well over either shoulder.
Route Running: Savvy route-runner. Has enough straight-line speed to challenge the corner deep and is a balanced, agile runner. Able to sink his hips and create some explosiveness out of his breaks to gain separation. Understands where the holes in zone coverage are and how to avoid contact to get to them quickly.
After the Catch: Good agility and balance to make defenders miss in the open field and possesses enough straight-line speed to go the distance. Not a true blazer, however. Will follow his blocks, but only shows moderate vision overall. Can spin through arm tackles, but doesn't run with enough power to consistently break free. Willing to go across the middle. Quality punt returner.
Blocking: Pesky run blocker. Understands his role and works to remain squarely in between his assignment and the ballcarrier, but has only moderate strength. Flashes good effort downfield to spring teammates for big plays.
Intangibles: Surprised many with his decision to sign with USC and play in Los Angeles out of relatively tiny Muskegon, Mich. (pop. 175,000). Has struggled with durability."
Positive: Solid receiver with nice size/speed numbers. Comes back to the ball out of breaks, extends his hands and looks the pass in to make the reception away from his frame. Keeps plays inbounds after the catch, gives effort, and follows blocks everywhere on the field. Effectively adjusts to the errant throw and makes the catch in stride. Shows good quickness.
Negative: More of a one-speed receiver and really does not have a burst. Not a big-bodied receiver who wins out in battles.
Analysis: Johnson has displayed progress the past two seasons and has enough ability to produce as a fourth receiver in the NFL."
Negatives: Small frame, appears weak and gets overpowered by larger defenders... Lacks good acceleration on cuts, can't separate from quicker cornerbacks... Slows down going into his breaks... Not a great run blocker, doesn't have the strength to push his man backwards... Poor leaping ability, not good at pinpointing the ball in the air... Suffered a broken collarbone in 2009... USC receivers have been very hit or miss in recent years... Tools are there, but still raw and needs to be coached up a bit."
Weaknesses: Small receiver with slight frame. Will struggle to defeat press coverage off the LOS. Needs to improve his route running. Inconsistent effort as a blocker. His size will make it difficult for him to sustain blocks at the next level.
Projection: Fourth or fifth rounder. Johnson will contribute immediately on special teams as a returner and should develop into a decent slot receiver at the next level."
Johnson was again supposed to be the main receiving threat for the Trojans in 2010, but freshman Robert Woods had something to say about that. Woods even took over a majority of the kickoff returning duties that Johnson had done for the most part since his freshman year. Yet, Johnson did take over the punt return duties and returned one for a touchdown. He also caught 64 passes for 692 yards and a team high eight touchdowns.
Johnson can run a sub 4.4 40 and that speed will get him drafted in the second or third round. He has decent hands and plenty of experience. Johnson's ability to return kickoffs and punts will make him a little more valuable, but generously listed as 6-0, Johnson is a slot receiver, but any NFL team would love to have a slot receiver who can like he can."
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