The Chargers had a decision to make with the 21st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. It was beyond obvious that the team was going to take a receiver, the question was simply who. Would the team take the fan favorite in Zay Flowers? The receiver who had ties to the coaching staff in Jordan Addison? Or the biggest boom-or-bust receiver who had a high ceiling, but had a much lower floor?
Los Angeles went with the boom-or-bust prospect, taking TCU's Quentin Johnston despite his drop problems in college. For Johnston, the Chargers were the perfect team as it would allow him to lay low and develop in his rookie season without being forced to be in a prominent role.
Injuries to Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer changed that, though, and Johnston has been forced into a bigger role. That has not gone well as Johnston has struggled and has come up with key drops in big spots that quite literally have cost his team the game. Meanwhile, Flowers and Addison have both been very productive for their respective teams.
Flowers had his most productive night as a pro against the Chargers on Sunday as he found the endzone twice for the Ravens' only two touchdowns of the game. Johnston, meanwhile, was banged up on a contested catch opportunity in the third quarter and never returned. But it wasn't the medical staff that ruled him out. It was the coaching staff.
Chargers prove they don't know what they are doing at all with Quentin Johnston
Brandon Staley would follow up the statement and say that he felt like with the flow of the game and where Johnston was (pointing at his own ribs) it didn't make sense to bring him back in the game. So Johnston getting banged up had some impact, but it was not a situation where the medical staff ruled him out.
Regardless, this is just another example of mismanagement by the Chargers. The team had to win the game but the fact that the 21st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft was benched late for a practice squad veteran (Alex Erickson) is absolutely sick.
The Chargers are failing Johnston just as much as he is failing the team. As bad as he has been, he also has not been put in any kind of situation to succeed. The Chargers have been calling plays for Johnston as the X receiver and is giving him the same route trees as Mike Williams or Joshua Palmer.
That simply is not who Johnston is. Sure, he has a big frame and is fast, but the entire tape on him coming into the league is that he is not someone who is going to make contested catches. Instead, he should be utilized as an underneath option who gets the ball near the line of scrimmage and can use his athleticism as a ball carrier.
Johnston is green and he is in a situation that is playing to his weaknesses, not his strengths. Of course he is going to struggle. Unfortunately, him getting benched on primetime while Flowers ran in the game-winning touchdown is not going to do him any favors for his standing with the fanbase.