Quentin Johnston has had quite a whirlwind few weeks following the NFL Combine. On April 17, it was reported that the TCU wideout was not invited to attend the NFL Draft in Kansas City to avoid an “awkward situation” if he fell out of the first round, per the NFL. This situation was unavoidable, however, as Kentucky quarterback Will Levis fell out of the first round.
On draft night, Johnston was selected 21st overall by the Los Angeles Chargers. As the second WR selected from a talented group of athletes, the Chargers expect big things from him.
From an awkward situation to the best situation possible?
A NEW ERA IN LA?
Keenan Allen in 2022: 10 games, 66 receptions on 89 targets, 752 yards, 4 TDs
Mike Williams in 2022: 13 games, 63 receptions on 93 targets, 895 yards, 4 TDs
Johnston joins a group of great pass catchers, creating a top-five position group in the NFL. However, he may be at the top of this list in a few short months for a multitude of reasons. The most glaring is a lack of durability from Los Angeles’ incumbents. Both Allen and Williams have an injury history list that could rival a CVS receipt, as Allen missed seven games last season and Williams missed four, as well as the Chargers’ postseason choke against the Jaguars. The old saying goes, “availability is the best ability,” and with the almost certainty of both of these guys missing at least one game, Johnston will have the opportunity to pick up valuable targets.
It’s also important to note that Allen is 31 and Williams is 28. Certainly no spring chickens. The Chargers hope for Johnston to be a building block of their future offenses for years to come, taking over for his veteran teammates.
PERSONNEL CHANGES IN LOS ANGELES
Arguably the biggest off-the-field change in the NFL was the Chargers’ addition of Kellen Moore to their coaching staff. Moore is one of the league’s brightest young offensive minds, and the Chargers are counting on him to develop and unlock Justin Herbert as he enters his fourth season.
As a coordinator in Dallas, he compiled quite a hefty resume. In four years at the position, the Cowboys’ offense ranked second in both total offense (391.0 yards/game) and scoring offense (27.7 points/game), as well as the fourth-best passing offense (264.4 yards/game). The Chargers’ offense has not been bad in the Herbert era, finishing ninth in total yards last season, but Moore is expected to refine and improve an already talented group. Johnston is in a spectacular position to learn and grow with one of the best OC/QB combos in football.
The final area of optimism for Johnston comes from the uncertainty surrounding Austin Ekeler‘s future with the club. Multiple reports surrounding Ekeler surfaced this summer about his trade request. Ekeler enters the final year of his current contract, and he enters his age 28 season. These two facts don’t bode well for the chance of a big payout, so it seems Ekeler is looking for a team to have faith in him for a bit longer than what the Chargers are thinking. No RB in the league has produced numbers close to Ekeler over the past two years, amassing 177 catches and 38 total touchdowns and finishing as a top-two PPR player in both seasons.
If his request for a trade is granted, the identity of the Chargers would revolve solely around the receiver group.
QUICK FANTASY OUTLOOK
Johnston’s landing spot is ideal. He’ll have the chance to debut in a phenomenal offense that should deploy his skill set and eventually headline the position group in Los Angeles for years to come. His current dynasty startup ADP is 48.7, similar to Christian Walker (47.0) and Deebo Samuel (48.1). The Wolf has him as WR3 in the initial 2023 Rookie Rankings, sandwiched between fellow first rounders Jordan Addison and Zay Flowers.
WHAT THE EXPERT SAYS
“Overall, Johnston requires polish with his route-running and ball-finishing skills, but he offers legitimate
big-play potential with his size-speed athleticism and catch radius. He has NFL-starting traits with upside as he continues to develop,” wrote The Athletic’s Dane Brugler.