Greg Roman says the quiet part out loud about Quentin Johnston, previous Chargers OC

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Chargers surprisingly drafted Quentin Johnston in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. It wasn't surprising to take a wide receiver but choosing Johnston over Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison (who had ties to the previous coaching staff) was not expected.

A surprising draft choice always looks worse when the player does not pan out. Johnston's rookie season was spectacularly disappointing, bottoming out with a dropped pass against the Green Bay Packers that would have won the game for the Bolts.

Johnston deserved the criticism he received last season but it was not entirely his fault. The previous coaching staff led by Brandon Staley and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore simply did not know how to properly use Johnston considering his skill set. Thankfully, new offensive coordinator Greg Roman actually seems like he has a grip on what Johnston should be as a weapon.

Greg Roman may be the key to Quentin Johnston bouncing back for the Chargers

Johnston probably won't ever be a bona fide franchise wide receiver that tilts the field in favor of the Chargers. It would take drastic improvements for Johnston to reach that level and it is very hard to imagine him making that jump after his rookie year.

That being said, Johnston can certainly be more productive than he was last season if he is used in the proper way. Roman outlined exactly how Johnston should be used: as an underneath option that gets the ball in his hands near the line of scrimmage.

Johnston was not used in that capacity last season. Because Mike Williams suffered a season-ending ACL injury, and Johnston is six-foot-four with speed, the Chargers just slapped him into the X-receiver role hoping it would work.

It didn't work. Johnston is not fit to be the X receiver as he does not have the contested-catch skills nor the hands, at least at this point in his career, to succeed in that role. He needs to get the ball quickly to then use his athleticism to make defenders miss.

The one game where Johnston produced the most was against the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football and that is exactly what the Chargers did. Johnston got involved by the line of scrimmage early and put together a good game catching five passes for 50 yards.

Roman was not part of the regime that chose to draft Johnston but he is at least doing the right things to make him successful at the NFL level. It still has to translate from the practice field to real games but at the very least, at least fans can rest easy knowing he will actually be used properly.