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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Brennen Rupp

Unpacking Future Packers: No. 37, TCU WR Quentin Johnston

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2023 NFL draft.

The Green Bay Packers haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft since selecting Javon Walker with the 20th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. 

In the 2022 NFL Draft, Brian Gutekunst selected linebacker Quay Walker in the first round. It marked the first time the Packers drafted an off-ball linebacker in the first round since 2006. 

It’s possible that Gutekunst ends another streak in the 2023 NFL Draft by selecting a wide receiver in the first round to get Jordan Love more weapons.

If Gutekunst does indeed draft a wide receiver in the first round a player he could target is Quentin Johnston. The TCU wide receiver checks in at No. 37 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.

A four-star recruit, Johnston hauled in 22 receptions for 487 yards and two touchdowns during his first year on campus. In 2021, Johnston recorded 33 receptions for 634 yards and six touchdowns.

During the first year of the Sonny Dykes era at TCU, Johnston hauled in 60 receptions for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns. 

“QJ was TCU’s biggest playmaker in the passing game this season,” Russell Hodges, the editor for Frogs O’ War said.  “His receiving numbers improved over each of his three seasons with the Frogs and his junior season was the best of his career. Whenever TCU needed a key third-down pickup or a chunk play down the field, QJ was the player offensive coordinator Garrett Riley dialed up the plays for. QJ made his bread on deep balls, where he consistently found open space and beat defenders in one-on-one situations. Without his touchdown against Michigan, TCU likely falls short in the Fiesta Bowl.”

The TCU wide receiver has a unique blend of size and athleticism. That rare blend is a big reason why Johnston was No. 23 on Bruce Feldman’s annual Freaks list this past summer. Johnston puts a ton of stress on defenses with his size, speed, and toughness. He’s able to run through arm tackles and when he makes the first man miss, he has the speed to turn a 10-yard pass into a 70-yard touchdown. According to Pro Football Focus, Johnston finished this past season with 532 yards after the catch.

“I think QJ’s greatest strength is his athleticism in the open field,” Hodges said. “His ability to win routes down the field and turn marginal gains into large chunks of yards in the open field is what makes him so dangerous, particularly for a player with his size. I think that’s where he’ll find success immediately in the NFL – short yardage plays where the route takes him into open space, where he can use his speed and elusiveness to gain large chunks of yards.”

With his size and speed, Johnston is a vertical threat that quickly eats up cushion with his long strides. He tracks the ball well downfield and has good body control with the ball in his flight. At the combine, Johnston showcased his explosive leaping ability with a 40.5-inch vertical. He has a twitchy lower half and is capable of bursting in and out of his breaks to create separation. 

Johnston is an explosive playmaker that averaged nearly 20 yards per reception during his career at TCU. He did most of his damage on vertical routes or quick hitters that allowed him to catch the ball in space and quickly get upfield. His route tree doesn’t have many branches and it’s part of his game that will need polishing. 

I think he still has some room to improve as a route runner, as TCU primarily found success with him on go routes, slants, and underneath routes where he could take advantage of zone coverages,” Hodges said. “What will be interesting is where he lines up in the NFL. QJ was mostly lined up on the outside for the Frogs but was occasionally used on end-around runs and other gadget plays. With his size, elusiveness, and his speed, I’d be curious to see whether or not he finds success in the slot.”

Fit with the Packers

The Packers need more playmakers to pair with Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure.

During his rookie season, Watson showcased the tools to be the team’s new No. 1 option at wide receiver. Doubs flashed the skills to be the team’s No. 2 or No. 3 option. Toure, last year’s seventh-round pick has a spot on the team’s wide receiver depth chart.

Teaming Johnston with Watson would put a lot of stress on opposing defenses. Those two are size, speed weapons that would make life a lot easier for Love during his first year as the starter. 

“I think QJ is one of the best athletes at the wide receiver position in this draft class and he was a productive player over each of his three seasons at TCU,” Hodges said. “Should QJ improve his hands and expand his route three, I think he’ll be one of the better wide receivers in the NFL within the next three years. Any team that needs a potential No. 1 receiver on the outside should strongly consider drafting QJ in the first round.”

Johnston has all the tools to become a star wide receiver at the next level. He’s a long, explosive athlete with a huge catch radius. 

With his ability to win vertically and make plays after the catch, Johnston has the goods to tempt Gutekunst to take a wide receiver in the first round for the first time since 2002.

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