Buffalo Bulls wide receiver Anthony Johnson has a chance to be the next small-school standout turned NFL star. He should be an early pick at the 2019 NFL Draft.
The 2018 NFL Draft was a rewarding event for wide receiver prospects. D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley were selected in the first round, six other wideouts were taken in Round 2, and another seven were off the board by the end of Round 4.
As analysts begin to look ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft class, however, there’s a sense that the star power could be even greater.
The talent in the 2019 class of wide receivers ranks amongst the best we’ve seen in quite some time. Ole Miss Rebels star A.J. Brown has already made progress towards being a top-10 draft pick, while N’Keal Harry is garnering early A.J. Green comparisons.
The prospect who’s rising from obscurity to the ranks of the potentially elite, however, is Buffalo Bulls wide receiver Anthony Johnson.
Johnson, who stands at 6’2″ and 207 pounds, has emerged as one of the most captivating prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s an elite deep threat who produced monster numbers during the 2017 season with the Bulls.
Johnson finished his breakout season with 76 receptions for 1,356 receiving yards—an average of 17.8 yards per catch—and 14 touchdowns
Johnson erupted with a dominant showing against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, pulling in 11 catches for 140 yards and one score. That’s especially impressive considering his teammates combined for 11 receptions for 71 yards.
It was the embodiment of what made Johnson such a dominant force in 2017: He’s arguably the best deep ball threat in his class.
That’s a riveting statistic that NFL franchises are all but guaranteed to take into consideration if he can even come close to emulating it in 2018.
Johnson does an excellent job of locating the ball and making catches over his shoulder. He has the speed to go over the top of the defense, as well as the size and strong hands to make plays in traffic on contested throws.
Johnson is also a borderline elite target on intermediate throws and improved over time at working short routes and producing bigger gains.
In a class that features a number of potential first-round draft picks at wide receiver, Johnson may be the most compelling of all.
He transferred from two community colleges before redshirting at Buffalo in 2016. Then, in his first ever game with the Bulls, he dominated a Big Ten opponent with a performance that set the stage for a season that made it seem as though there was no learning curve.
Johnson will now carry the burden of expectations, but if he succeeds in doing so, there will be few who question the legitimacy of his prospect status.
Anthony Johnson could be a small-school standout turned NFL star.