In the fourth of many Arizona Cardinals NFL draft profiles, we look at KeeSean Johnson, a productive receiver out of Fresno State that met with Arizona Cardinals brass recently.
Along with adding to the defensive line, general manager Steve Keim will surely look to add to the receiving core in the draft. While they very well could (and should) add a receiver with one of their first three picks, they should use another on KeeSean Johnson; a receiver I see a great amount of potential in.
Johnson would be a nice fit alongside Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk in the slot or out-wide. At 6-1, 201-lbs, he has an NFL ready frame to go alongside his game built for the big leagues. In 2018 alone, the Fresno State product racked up 95 receptions for 1,340 yards and eight touchdowns.
Analytics firm Pro Football Focus grades Johnson at a solid 82.9 and ranked him in the top 11 in three receiving categories. The three categories include his 11th place in yards per route run with 3.05, his eighth place in deep pass receptions (20+ yards) with 15 and ninth in deep pass yards with 541. While he’s not known for his speed (4.60 second 40-yard-dash), his stats show (12.6 yards per completion) that he can be a deep threat on a consistent basis.
However, his numbers at Fresno State were a little misleading when considering his ability to catch nearly everything in site. His catch rate over his four-year career was 65.2%, but it undersells just how productive he was. He was thrown to 422 times and caught 275 passes, he only dropped 19 passes in that span, per PFF.
Johnson is a possession receiver that will thrive when asked to run routes including the comeback route and hitch. He can move the sticks with proper body positioning, and with his naturally strong hands, he often pulls most of, if not all of the balls that hit his hands. Seriously, Johnson has some of the most natural hands in this draft class.
While hands are great, Johnson underwhelms as an athlete and runner. While he’s a capable runner, he won’t amaze you with open field moves or shiftiness. He’s simply the kind of player that would much rather come at a defender and lower his helmet to fight for the extra yards rather than juke his way through.
Johnson’s route running ability is very crisp. He has no additional stutter steps or fancy hip movements, but it should be classified as extremely technical. Like a large portion of young receivers before him, he will struggle at against press coverage, but receivers coach David Raih should be able to improve on that.
Johnson is also a solid run-blocker as a receiver — a less flashy but necessary trait. He uses his excellent frame, body positioning, and ‘never say die’ attitude to carve lanes for ball carriers behind him.
For the Arizona Cardinals, Johnson projects as a nice fit on a shallow receiving depth chart. He seems to have a high floor and moderate ceiling due to average athleticism. However, if he can continue to improve on his quickness he could be a solid player that carves out a long career in the NFL.
Final verdict: KeeSean Johnson could be a pro-ready player available in the middle rounds of the draft. If the Cardinals find him available in the fifth or sixth, don’t be surprised if they take a shot on the accomplished Fresno State Bulldog.
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