With the 21st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Chargers selected TCU wide receiver, Quentin Johnston. Fans had been asking for the team to take a first-round wide receiver for several years and Johnston becomes the first receiver taken in round one by the franchise since Mike Williams in 2017.
Johnston is a very intriguing prospect as he arguably has the biggest variance between his ceiling and his floor in the NFL. There is a path in which Johnston is by far the best receiver from this class because of his intangibles. However, there is also a world in which he cannot overcome his shortcomings (such as his drops) and struggles to ever gain steam.
Luckily for Johnston, he arguably landed in the perfect spot to realize his potential. He has one of the best quarterbacks in the league throwing him passes and he does not have the pressure of being the WR1 or WR2 right away. It could have gotten ugly if he was drafted to a team like, say, the New York Giants.
However, this comes with a catch: Johnston's rookie-year numbers are not going to be as good as they otherwise could have been on another team. All that matters is the Chargers' winning games, but this could impact his fantasy football production (we know a lot of you care about that!).
Quentin Johnston's rookie year projections for the Chargers:
48 catches, 575 yards, 4 touchdowns
These may seem like disappointing numbers for a player just taken with the 21st overall pick but it is going to be a growing process for Quentin Johnston. Not everyone is going to be elite right away and the Chargers don't need him to be that.
Johnston is somewhere between the WR3 and WR4 depending on how his camp battles go with Joshua Palmer. That being said, these projections do assume that there will be a few games where Johnston is going to get more targets because of injury. It is the NFL. Injuries happen and to predict the entire WR room to stay healthy the entire season is silly.
As a result, I think we see a similar output for Johnston that we saw for DeAndre Carter last year. While the two players couldn't be any more different in stature, Johnston's main value right away is going to be his ability to get open early and pick up YAC yards. He will still get his chances deep but with Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton and Derius Davis, it seems like Johnston will live in the short and intermediate routes.
There is a chance that he could become more of a security outlet for Justin Herbert and end up with more receptions and fewer yards per reception as well. If Austin Ekeler does not play then Herbert will be without his no. 1 check-down option. That would open the door for Johnston to get check-down opportunities.