Los Angeles Chargers undrafted rookie spotlight: TE Ben Johnson
By Travis Wakeman
There’s bit a tight end theme around here for awhile at Bolt Beat, so here, I’ll take a look at another undrafted tight end for the Los Angeles Chargers, Ben Johnson.
Previously, I profiled fellow undrafted tight end Cole Hunt. Both he and Johnson have a much better chance of showcasing their skills and possibly even making the 53-man roster this summer following the season-ending injury to Hunter Henry.
Because of that, the Chargers will be looking at every possible option to fill his shoes. Undrafted rookies should not be counted out, especially because the best tight end in franchise history (and perhaps league history), went undrafted.
Johnson didn’t put up huge numbers at Kansas University, but he also played in only 20 games over the course of his first three seasons at the school. In his senior season, he caught 30 passes and found the end zone once while averaging 12.1 yards per catch.
Johnson could provide the Chargers with a tight end who can open up the passing game while also chipping in as a blocker. Though he didn’t play for a prestigious football program, Benton Smith of KUSports.com notes that a scout for the Chargers put him on the team’s radar all the way back in August 2017.
In speaking to Smith. Johnson had this to say:
“You know, I had glimpses where I showed what I can do. Teams see that and they know football. They’re able to notice the little things, and sometimes the little things are what they like.”
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Johnson is going to display surprising athleticism. He posted a 33-inch vertical at the Kansas pro day. At 6-4 and 246 pounds, he has the kind of frame possessed by a tight end who can run past linebackers as well as shield off defensive backs.
If he can get the reps, I believe he will make plays in the passing game this summer.
And look around, it’s not as though the Chargers have a deep group of tight ends. Along with Virgil Green, a primary blocker, the team has just Hunt, Sean Culkin, Braedon Bowman and Austin Roberts on the team.
Green is the only guy on that list who was drafted.
I like Johnson’s chances of making the team better than those of Hunt and Roberts and I believe that at worst, he’ll be part of the team’s 10-man practice squad.