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NFL Draft Preview: Minnesota Gophers WR Tyler Johnson

The Minneapolis North Star will probably be a draft sleeper for someone

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Outback Bowl - Minnesota v Auburn Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL Draft begins Thurday, April 23rd and we get the closest thing to real sports since the NCAA conference tournaments ended on March 11th. The Gophers will likely have 4 players drafted this weekend and we next move onto a local product who left the University of Minnesota as the greatest wide receiver in program history and could go anywhere between the third and sixth round of the draft.

The last Gopher WR to be selected in the NFL draft was one of the guys who Tyler Johnson left over in the record books this season when Eric Decker was selected by the Denver Broncos in the third round in 2010. Can Tyler Johnson have the impact that Decker did in his NFL career? Landing in a spot where a QB like Peyton Manning throws to you can’t hurt.

Tyler Johnson—Wide Receiver


Height: 6’1”

Weight: 206 lbs

Arms: 30 7/8”

Hands: 9”

Combine Results: (Rank within position)

Johnson went to the NFL combine and went through the measurements and interviews and did some position drills, but did not perform in any of the measurable skill tests. Johnson said he was skipping the events to try and maximize his performance at Minnesota’s pro day—-which unfortunately was cancelled due to Covid-19. Thus, it’s one of the potential reasons Johnson may last longer on the draft board than many thought after the Gophers 2019 season.

Mockdraftable Spider Graph:

Johnson came to the University of Minnesota as a hometown hero from Minneapolis North High School. He would end up as the most prolific wide out in Gopher program history. Johnson was named All-Big Ten First Team in 2018 and 2019. He played in 49 career games and made 213 career catches (second in school history) for 3,305 yards (first in school history) and 33 touchdowns (first in school history). He caught a pass in 36 straight games, which is the second longest streak in school history and had a school-record 16 career 100-yard games. He set single-season school records in 2019 for receptions (86), receiving yards (1,318) and receiving touchdowns (13) and is the only receiver in school history to have two 1,000 yard seasons (2018 and 2019).


  • Tremendously productive college career
  • Recognizes acceleration opportunities to play past coverage
  • Rare ball skills and instincts as ball-winner
  • Basketball background shows when bodying defenders at catch-point
  • Defenders catch shoulders, back and hips anywhere on the field
  • Diligent in working back to his quarterback
  • Uses tracking and stacking to handle deep catches
  • Excellent high-point timing and mid-air adjustments


  • Lacks arm length for desired catch radius
  • Top-end speed falls below the NFL mark
  • Unable to find second gear to run under throws
  • Route work doesn’t throw defender off the scent
  • Below average foot quickness to cross-up corners at route stem
  • Disappointing separation burst out of breaks
  • Has had issues fighting the football into the middle of the field
  • Physical after the catch, but not very elusive
  • Has had some concentration issues resulting in at least one groaner of a drop in many games.


Mock Draft Predictions?


Sporting News- Round 3 Pick 74 to Cleveland Browns

The Athletic - Round 5 Pick 149 to Detroit Lions

CBS Sports - Round 3 Pick 102 to Pittsburgh Steelers

Draftwire/USA Today - Round 5 Pick 152 to Carolina Panthers - Round 5 Pick 158 to New York Jets— Round 3 Pick 84 to Los Angeles Rams

Our Prediction?

I’m guessing unfortunately the lack of a pro day and measurable performances at the NFL Combine will end up resulting in Tyler Johnson staying on the draft board longer than he should have in a normal situation and longer than any Gopher fan will want to see. A lot of draft people are comparing TJ to AJ Brown who went in the 2nd round a year ago to Tennessee Titans and blew up at the end of his rookie year. I think any of us would love to see that result. As for a prediction? I think we will need to wait until Day 3 to hear Tyler’s name called, but hopefully he will go early on Saturday in the 4th round to a team with a great quarterback. He he makes it all the way to the fifth round, he will undoubtedly end up being a draft steal for someone.