If there’s one word to describe Diontae Johnson in his brief, but prolific career at Toledo, it’d be “playmaker.”
Johnson completed numerous home run plays in his time as a Rocket. He frequently utilized his speed advantage to gain separation down field and this resulted in plenty of 50+ yard touchdowns for Toledo. Johnson averaged a tremendous 16.6 yards per catch in his three years, ranking 20th in MAC history.
The former Toledo wideout — who stands 5’10” and weighs 183 pounds — earned an NFL Combine invite, where he ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, benched 15 reps of 225, recorded a 33.5 inch vertical jump, and completed the 3-cone drill in 7.09 seconds. Johnson’s Combine invite stems from his breakout junior year, where he rose from a special teamer to one of the elite receivers in college football.
During this 2017 season, a year which featured Toledo’s lone conference title of the decade, Johnson caught 74 passes for 1,278 yards and 13 touchdowns. He ranked 24th in receptions, 8th in receiving yards, and 4th in receiving touchdowns with these standout numbers. The Ruskin, FL native saw six games of over 100 receiving yards in 2017, including a monster 3-game stretch where he hauled in 23 passes for 480 yards and three scores.
89-yard deep ball to Diontae Johnson! pic.twitter.com/FMk85LmjPF— Toledo Football (@ToledoFB) November 2, 2017
Johnson’s stats took a slight step backward during his senior year (49 receptions, 761 yards, 8 touchdowns). Toledo returned its other star receiver Cody Thompson from a brutal leg injury and Thompson split the targets with Johnson. Additionally, Toledo brought in two new quarterbacks to replace 2018 NFL Draft selection Logan Woodside, and the Rockets completed 21.1% fewer passes during Johnson’s final season compared to the Woodside-led 2017.
In terms of a wide receiver, here are the routes Johnson experienced the most success with during his premier 2017 campaign.
Where Toledo WR Diontae Johnson won last year pic.twitter.com/tfN4CcMIKB— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) May 11, 2018
Johnson’s work on the field wasn’t just done on offense. He functioned as the team’s return specialist, where he earned four career special teams touchdowns (two punt, two kick). With averages of 23.4 yards per kick return and an off-the-chart 20.2 yards per punt return, Johnson obtained the 2018 MAC Special Teams Player of the Year award. Other awards handed to him at Toledo include two First Team All-MAC receiver selections, two First Team All-MAC punt returner selections, and two Second Team All-MAC kick returner selections — becoming the first player in the conference to earn All-MAC honors in three positions since 2011.
NFL teams are eyeing Johnson for his speed, acceleration on routes, and his cutting ability. Johnson’s footwork is top-notch and he’s an electric player who seems destined to get a shot as a return specialist. To further improve his game, Johnson must work on his hands, as he suffered from dropped passes in the past, and his strength, which sometimes causes him to lose 50-50 battles for the ball.
As a Combine-invited wide receiver with a knack for creating home run plays, Johnson should warrant a selection on Draft Day. He has some Ted Ginn Jr. traits in him, especially with his early separation he can create at the line of scrimmage. Johnson likely land in the sixth or seventh round by a team looking for a speedy slot receiver or a boost in the punt return game.