- Attended South Pointe High School, Rock Hill, South Carolina
- In 2012 was ejected out of the rear window of a vehicle and landed on his head. Escaped with some cuts and a concussion, but he was told by one doctor he would never play sports again.
- Attended Butler Community College out of high school due to his grades, then off to Iowa Western Community College
- Redshirted his first season at the University at Buffalo (2016). Nearly left school when told he was being redshirted. Decided to stay, worked on his route running and added 20 lbs of muscle.
- Two cousins currently in the NFL: Jadeveon Clowney and Johnathan Joseph
- After a very productive junior season at UB, he consulted his family and decided to return to school for his senior season. partly because no one in his family had ever graduated college. Academics has never been his thing, but going back to school to graduate says a lot about him. He doesn’t regret it, “I had another year to get better and graduate.”
- Mental toughness of an Olympian. Overcame injuries and the death of his childhood friend, De’mon Davis, in 2018.
- Currently training for the Combine at Exos in Pensacoloa, Florida
- High school
- Reported at 6-foot-3, 180 pounds
- Played football and basketball
- All-state selection for basketball
- Butler Community College (2014)
- Iowa Western Community College before transferring to UB (2015)
- Left hamstring injury — missed two games and limited him in a third game
- Undisclosed arm injury suffered in the Dollar General Bowl
- Went on to play at the Senior Bowl
- Vs. Man Coverage
- Targets: 43
- Receptions: 22
- Yards: 454
- Yards After Catch: 120
- Touchdowns: 4
- Yards Per Reception: 20.4
- Bowling Green
- Eastern Michigan
- Kent State
- Miami (Ohio)
- Bowling Green
- Year – redshirt senior
- Height – 6’2 1/8″
- Weight – 211 lbs
*Anthony Johnson wears #83 in the following cut-ups*
- Prototypical height and weight
- Comfortable stance, with the proper amount of weight concentrated on the front foot. Arms down and relaxed.
- Balanced strider
- Ability to play out wide or in the slot
- Underrated play speed in a 3×3 area
- Play strength to break arm tackles
- Recognizes cornerback blitzes, becomes the sight adjustment or hot route immediately
- Mentally tough player. Converted 81.3% of third downs into first downs and 67% of receptions into a touchdown in the red zone.
- Skilled in the art of hand fighting
- Employs chops, swipes, aggressive double-handed swipes, forearm shivers, and arm overs to win out of the gate
- Routinely wins the release phase by winning the hand battle to garner clean releases
- Keeps frame clean while driving downfield with chops and quick hand/forearm wipes
- Understands when the defensive back is going to shoot his hands, counters quickly
- Patience to utilize the “best release” technique in order to win at the line of scrimmage
- Efficient in the short area
- Good suddenness, route running, and ability to separate in the short area, particularly on slants, in or out-breaking routes, comebacks, stop routes, and hitches
- Sells vertically by rapidly pumping his arms with good lean and eye discipline
- Aggressively pops and drops at the top of routes in this area to create separation
- Quickly finds neighboring zone defender before he enters their area
- Snaps head around with exact timing of the route, refusing to give the corner an iota of an advantage
- Eliminates the angles defensive backs have on him after the catch
- Strong rapport with his quarterback — nonverbal communication and understanding of how to play above scheme.
“I understand what he’s going to do and he kind of understands me. There are times where he might switch a route up a little different but we’re on the same page and we understand each other. He’s a playmaker.”
- Senses the scramble drill, gets to his landmarks or into his quarterback’s field of vision
- Ability to track the ball down the field while maintaining or slightly increasing his speed.
- Can track over both shoulders really well
- Will separate late with his ability to run full speed while his eyes are up or through the use of his hands
- Body control
- Consistently gets positional leverage
- Post-up ability on back shoulder passes. Forces the defensive back to feel with one hand while Johnson controls the other hand enough to reel in the throw at the catch point.
- Sublime boundary awareness while making acrobatic catches
- Reliable Hands
- Forces defenders to work through his body in order to make a play on the ball on in-breaking routes.
- Strong hands; able to catch all levels of velocity away from his frame
- Catching in traffic presents no issues. Will pluck ball out of the air, tuck, and run. Even shows the presence of mind to switch the ball into his other hand to use near hand to break tackle.
- Times the framing of the pass perfectly. Consistently shows hands late as to not cue the defender
- One-handed catch ability with defenders draped on him
- Played against below average talent in the Mid-American Conference
- Beneficiary of a lot of designed plays to get him 1-on-1
- 2×2 sets vs. quarters coverage – Switch verticals (slot), Mills concept, Hoss concepts (Hitch, seam)
- Plays big but isn’t an above the rim receiver. Lacks elite vertical explosion.
- Appears to lack the horsepower needed to consistently beat NFL corners deep
- Nitrous needed to consistently accelerate away from defenders is missing
- Would like to see more variation of speed in route stems. This will improve separation issues.
- Can false step from time to time
- Playing field neutralized when facing a corner with similar height and length
- Allows the ball to get into his frame at times
- Offers very little yardage after the catch ability. Only 28% of his receiving yards in 2018 were courtesy of YAC.
- Vision is below average with the ball in his hand.
- Sometimes needs to take what he can get.
Anthony Johnson averaged 17.8 yards per reception in his two years in Western New York, and that big play ability is why I believe many overlook how polished of a receiver he is. He isn’t just a deep threat. In fact, I think his nuance in the short area of the field is where his game is going to take off at the next level. Johnson graduated with a major in Sociology and a minor in the art of hand fighting. He routinely releases cleanly off the line of scrimmage because of his hand usage and ability to counter strikes by corners when facing press coverage. His arsenal of chops, swipes, double-handed swipes, arm overs, and forearm wipes fuel his route running and are typically the reason he is able to separate in all phases of a route stem. Johnson’s play speed and route running within the ‘quick game’ structure of the offense should serve him well on Sundays because he is able to sell routes vertically but then snap them off underneath to separate and quickly get his eyes on the quarterback. He is coy with his ability to get positional leverage on defenders of all shapes and sizes and can body them like a power forward. Corners are simply not able to garner any sort of physical or environmental advantage to play through or around Johnson. With that forcefield around his 6-foot-2 frame, the offense can call on the Rock Hill, South Carolina native when they need a chunk play. His body control and ability to track the ball 50 to 60-plus yards down the field is an advantage for the offense on just about every rep. Especially on plays when the quarterback is ad-libbing outside of the structure of the play, Johnson becomes the QB’s lifeline. The redshirt senior is mentally tough; he always came through in the clutch, and that mindset will serve him well in the NFL.
Johnson’s big-play ability gave Buffalonians a lot to cheer about on Saturdays, but I believe that sort of contribution will be few and far between at the NFL level. Needless to say, the talent in the Mid-American Conference is nowhere near what he will face in games, let alone in practice. I will admit he did face solid corners in 2017, but not so much in 2018. His overall athleticism could be an issue, specifically his speed and burst. I am not sure that Johnson will be able to separate with the traits he has shown on tape. That’s why the other parts of his game are so important. There were times where MAC corners were able to mirror his routes step for step, but Johnson would then win at or near the catch point. Aside from the inability to separate on his physical measurables, I would like to see him change gears more frequently when running routes. Changing the pace of his routes will make him much more difficult to cover. With slightly more separation, maybe Johnson can create more yards after the catch, which is something that he didn’t do much of last season. Finally, I would like to see a more tenacious blocker. Johnson appeared lackadaisical on some reps when he was asked to push-crack to the safety. He didn’t fire off the ball and get to the safety, which allowed the defender to make a play in the run game.
Overall, I believe Johnson is a fourth-round pick whose role will likely change at the next level. His game will quickly transition to a possession role instead of a vertical, big play guy, and that’s ok. He has the tools to be a very effective possession guy within the first few years of his NFL career, especially because he can be used as a big slot to work the middle of the field or as a traditional X or Z receiver. He will be useful in the short to intermediate area of the field in the three- to five-step drop game and help convert some first downs in those areas, but he then can win some plays down the field on well designed shot calls or plays outside the structure.