The LA Chargers selected Quentin Johnston with the 21st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and it was a surprising pick, to say the least. Johnston's physical traits matched up perfectly with what Tom Telesco traditionally values but many fans wanted to see the team take Zay Flowers instead.
The fanbase still flocked to support Johnston and started to get excited about what he could do with Justin Herbert throwing him the football. Add in a few circus catches at the beginning of training camp and it looked like Johnston was going to be an impactful player for the Bolts.
However, the biggest boom-or-bust first-round receiver prospect has not boomed. In five games played Johnston has just 44 receiving yards. He finished with no catches and only two targets on Monday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys. It goes deeper than just not performing, as practice squad receivers were getting snaps over Johnston in key spots.
As you could imagine, the fanbase has not responded kindly to Johnston's play early on in his career. If he is not booming, there is only one other direction he could go...
Chargers fans have officially put Quentin Johnston on bust watch
Jalen Reagor is probably the last receiver that a rookie ever wants to be compared to in the NFL. The Philadelphia Eagles taking Reagor over Justin Jefferson has become a draft legend and there is a real chance that the Chargers taking Johnston over Flowers and Jordan Addison will as well.
The frustrating part about Johnston thus far isn't just his play (because he is playing poorly) but also how the team is utilizing him. The Chargers are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and make Johnston this contested catch, deep ball receiver. Just because he is six-four doesn't mean that is what he is.
Coming into the season anyone who had eyes and watched Johnston's tape knew that he would best be used as an underneath receiver that can pick up yards after the catch. Maybe one day Johnston would develop the deep part of his route tree but especially early on he needed to be a quick-strike weapon that could make defenders miss with the football in his hands.
The Chargers have not done that at all and it is probably indicative of a grander picture issue for the Bolts. It does not appear that the Chargers drafted Johnston to have any kind of impact this season. He lost out on the WR3 role to Joshua Palmer and would have been reserved for gadget plays as the WR4.
That was fine when he was the WR4. But now that he is the WR3 with Mike Williams out, he needs to have some kind of impact on the offense and the team doesn't look like it knows what to do with him. It really does seem like the Chargers only wanted this to be a developmental year for Johnston with big things (hopefully) on the horizon.
If that is the mantra then great, bring in another receiver! Add help so that Johnston doesn't have to trek out there as the WR3 and lose confidence, derailing his development in the process. If that isn't the plan then Chargers fans should be extremely concerned about whatever this is.