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By: Alex Insdorf
Back in April, the Chargers used their first-round pick to select TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston. Los Angeles had not used a first-round selection on a receiver since Mike Williams was drafted out of Clemson six years ago.
Johnston’s college career was defined by his freakish YAC ability. He made consistent highlight reel plays once he got in the open field. Plenty of missed tackles were forced as TCU found ways to display his versatile, gazelle-like athleticism. His draft stock skyrocketed during his team’s College Football Playoff season.
Johnston showed out in Chargers training camp with plenty of explosive moments. And yet, since the beginning of the regular season, the Chargers’ first-round receiver finds himself primarily sidelined.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that the Chargers have a loaded receiver room at the top. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Joshua Palmer are all receivers who have had 750+ yard receiving seasons for the team. Getting Johnston on the field would not be as easy as the situations fellow rookies Zay Flowers or Jordan Addison walked into.
Still, it’s hard to feel that the Chargers have done their best when looking at his usage. Johnston played 22 snaps in Week 1 out of a possible 81. In Week 2, that number dropped to 10.
The most effort the Chargers have put toward designing a play for their first-round pick so far was a pitch toss that got blown up in the backfield by Miami’s Christian Wilkins. Through two weeks, Gerald Everett, Mike Williams, and Derius Davis have all run jet sweeps/end-arounds.
Against the Titans, his former TCU teammate Davis played more snaps than Johnston. The coaching staff is finding a more consistent role for their fourth-round kick returner than their first-round receiver.
That’s not to say Davis isn’t worthy of those snaps. He’s impressed when he’s been on the field. But not utilizing Johnston on sweeps, end-arounds and screens feels like a misunderstanding of what got him to where he is. The YAC threat the Chargers drafted isn’t meant to overtake Allen or Williams in year one, but he cannot be as much of an offensive afterthought on the smaller stuff.
It’s traditional for the Chargers to bring on their rookies slowly. But adding Johnston’s open-field abilities would make the offense more dynamic than it already is. With his frame and skill, he provides something that no other Chargers’ offensive player can. It’s up to Moore to seek out those looks more consistently than he has.
Originally posted on Chargers Wire