One of the main priorities of the Dallas Cowboys this offseason was getting a long-term deal done with Pro Bowl receiver Amari Cooper. In March, they did just that by signing him to a five-year, 100 million contract. However, with the departure of veteran receiver Randall Cobb to the Houston Texans, the Cowboys have a need in the slot, and Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson is a prime candidate to fill that role.
Johnson had very little impact in his freshman season in 2016 with 14 receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown. His sophomore campaign was a lot better as he racked up 35 receptions for 677 yards and seven touchdowns (missed final two games due to a hand injury). Johnson’s junior season put him on the national radar as he increased his production to 78 receptions for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns while receiving a first-team All-Big Ten nod. 2019 would be his best collegiate season as Johnson compiled 86 receptions for 1,318 yards and 13 touchdowns, garnering him first-team All-Big Tren honors. He would save the best performance of his college career for his final game in the 2020 Outback Bowl vs Auburn. Johnson would haul in 12 passes for 204 yards (career-high) and two touchdowns and be named the game’s MVP.
Johnson won’t take the top off of a defense with his speed or anything but he showed an unbelievable ability to make contested catches in college, making him a prime prospect as a red-zone target. Although he can lineup outside his best fit is in the slot. He’s a really good slant route receiver who has a nose for the end zone as evident by his 32 touchdowns over his last three collegiate seasons.
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Scouting report according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein
“Contested-catch warrior who plays the game like a big brother imposing his will on his younger brothers on the playground. Johnson’s lack of speed and explosiveness makes it hard to create clean catch windows unless he’s working against the zone. However, he’s an absolute rebound champ, using instincts, timing and impressive knowledge of body control to keep defenders away from the football and make it his own. His production speaks directly to his ball skills and competitiveness, but physical limitations might pigeon-hole him into a role as a zone-beating possession slot with red-zone talent.”
The Cowboys will certainly be looking to upgrade their defense in the early rounds of the draft. However, with the need for a slot option to go with Cooper and rising star Michael Gallup, Tyler Johnson is a player to keep an eye on when Day 3 rolls around if they haven’t addressed that need beforehand.