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2019 NFL Draft Profile: Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo

Here’s what you need to know about the Buffalo wideout going into the draft:

NCAA Football: MAC Championship-Northern Illinois at Buffalo Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Johnson only played two seasons of wide receiver at the Division I FBS level. In those two seasons, he earned himself two First Team All-MAC selections and also an NFL contract.

Johnson, a Rock Hill, SC native, began his career at Butler Community College, moved to Iowa Western Community College, and finally settled in at Buffalo in 2016. He redshirted that season before enjoying arguably the best offensive season in program history. As a junior, Johnson tallied 76 receptions (18th in FBS), 1,356 receiving yards (6th) and 14 touchdowns (3rd) in just 12 games.

Many speculated the receiver would bolt to the 2018 NFL Draft after one highly successful season in college, but Johnson returned to Buffalo’s campus for his senior season. He helped lead Buffalo to unforeseen heights as a senior, serving as a First Team All-MAC receiver on the first 10-win Bulls team in history. In 2018, Johnson wasn’t the sole weapon in the receiving corps, as K.J. Osborn developed into a top-tier wideout in the conference. Thus, his stats declined a bit in his senior year, but Johnson still put up a respectable 1,011 yards and 11 touchdowns.

During his junior season, Johnson recorded six games of 140 yards or more, peaking with a 195-yard, 2-touchdown performance in a 71-68 loss to Western Michigan in seven overtimes. As a senior, Johnson topped his career-high with a 238-yard showing on a Tuesday night versus Miami (OH). In that game, Johnson averaged nearly 30 yards per catch and scored three touchdowns to lead his team past the RedHawks in a 51-42 shootout.

After his final collegiate game in the 2018 Dollar General Bowl, Johnson received invites to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Johnson’s primary strengths as a wide receiver are his strength and catching ability. He’s excellent at catching passes in traffic and can snag just about anything that touches his hands. Back in high school, Johnson, who stands 6’2” and weighs 210 pounds, was an all-state basketball player and many of his skills that are on display on the gridiron also pertain to basketball. When catching a jump ball, such as on a fade route, Johnson gains an advantage over quarterbacks by snagging the ball at its highest point like a rebound. His vertical jump was only 32.5 inches at the combine, but with his 6’2” frame and long reach, he receives quite a boost.

He’s an excellent downfield threat, where he averaged 17.8 and 17.7 yards per catch in his junior and senior seasons, respectively. According to Pro Football Focus, only Oklahoma’s Biletnikoff candidate Marquise Brown finished with more yards per route run than Johnson in the past two seasons.

After he catches passes, he remains just as lethal. Johnson has a knack for shedding defenders with his strength to gain significant yards after a catch and thus can be a weapon on short crossing routes. He possesses average speed and acceleration (7.12 second 3-cone drill), and doesn’t compare well to other draft hopefuls in that department, but his strength and shed-tackle abilities rank up with the Hakeem Butlers of the draft.

At the Combine, Johnson did not run the 40-yard dash due to an injured ankle. At Pro Day, according to UB Spectrum, scouts claimed he clocked in around 4.50 seconds on his unofficial 40.

Johnson could conceivably be a third receiver on an NFL team on day one, due to his strength, verticality, hands, and ability to break tackles. Speed and route running are areas of his game that could use development, but Johnson should be a desirable mid-round pick for a bevy of NFL teams. One of the best aspects about Johnson as a draft prospect is he doesn’t have a single glaring weakness and that will help his case on Draft Day. Expect him to land anywhere from rounds 3-5. A suitable fit for Johnson would be a team such as the Baltimore Ravens, where he’d fight for a top-3 receiver spot immediately and add elements missing in the team’s current receiver depth chart.