I was reading a few articles on Jon Moore’s guy Charles Johnson when I realized that Johnson illustrates what is screwed up about expectations for receivers post-draft.
All of the articles on Johnson focus on whether he can learn a pro system or beat press coverage. From an article on MLive.com:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did its look at the draft – “Green Pack Packers: Rating their 2013 draft” – and included comments on Johnson.
“Can Johnson escape the press? No one will know until he squares off against NFL cornerbacks in training camp with his speed… If he can play special teams, he can buy time on the roster and mature as a receiver.”
In a Bleacher Report story – “Charles Johnson to Packers: How Does WR Fit with Green Bay?” – the question of his development was addressed:
“Emerging from a Division II school, Johnson will need time at the next level to adjust to more advanced play-calling and coverages. Learning behind the likes of Jones and Nelson should help fast-track that process, but Johnson is going to be a raw player out of the gates.”
I can’t read those articles and not think that if they were talking about Tavon Austin or Cordarrelle Patterson, the focus would be on getting the ball in their hands and letting them do what they do. This article from ESPN supports my view:
“My strength is when the ball is in my hands,” Patterson said. “Whether it be on a kick return, on an end around. I feel like when the ball is in my hands, I’m a special player. I’m still working on my route running, learning coverages and stuff.”
Spielman said the Vikings have already discussed “having a specific game plan of how we’ll be able to develop” Patterson. The obvious answer is to use him in a relatively simple schematic package that capitalizes on his open-field running ability, much as they did with Harvin. As you might recall, Harvin gained more than three-quarters of his receiving yards after the catch last season (528 of 677), according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The implicit message there is: “I’m an athlete, not a receiver.”
The reality is that Ted Thompson probably knows that just asking your receivers to do everything after the catch is a flawed plan. It’s kind of like running the football, which begs the question: Why not just run the football?
To be fair to Patterson, if you look at his Juco stats, he would come out much better on the market share/dominator style numbers that we tend to favor here, so in some sense we’re all penalizing him for playing in the SEC last year while Charles Johnson got to play inferior competition. Charles Johnson racked up 1200 yards and 16 touchdowns this year, while Patterson’s last Juco year was 924 yards and 15 touchdowns (along with 6 rushing touchdowns). That idea has been on my mind as it relates to the small school guys and is one reason that I didn’t move them up higher in my rankings. Jon Moore has convinced me on Johnson and I like his prospects, but I also think that what the Packers did is just arbitraged the hell out of teams like the Vikings because the Packers paid a late round pick for their “get the ball in his hands” guy, while the Vikings gave up a first rounder.