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2019 NFL Draft Prospect: KeeSean Johnson

On December 15th, KeeSean Johnson will look to cap a productive college career at Fresno State with a strong performance against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Las Vegas Bowl. The 6-foot-2-inch, 199-pound senior wide receiver has largely flown under the draft radar up to this point. Is his production profile enough to warrant serious consideration in dynasty leagues?

THE EARLY YEARS

After high school, Johnson received only one scholarship offer as a two-star prospect. As a redshirt freshman in 2015, he ranked second on the team in receptions (37) and third in yards receiving (337) in a relatively anemic passing offense. His 0.18 Dominator Rating wasn’t spectacular but it did lay a foundation for the future.

In 2016, Johnson nearly doubled his reception total (66) and saw a massive increase in yards (773) and touchdowns (6). This propelled him to a 0.38 Dominator Rating on the year, crossing the critical threshold we look for in WR prospects. In Week 1 against Nebraska, his only P5 opponent that season, Johnson put up a workman-like 8-61-0 line.

2017 AND BEYOND

The arrival of Oregon State transfer quarterback Marcus McMaryion proved to be a massive boost for Johnson. In 2017, he posted his first 1,000-yard season, finishing with a solid 77-1013-8 line. A large chunk of his production came in just three games, however, with seven of his eight TDs coming against Nevada, Hawaii, and Boise State. But in his final season, Johnson has been a consistent weekly contributor:

  • At least 85 yards receiving in 10 of 13 games
  • At least 6 receptions in 12 of 13 games
  • At least 1 TD in 6 of 13 games

In terms of raw counting stats, Johnson has been one of the most prolific WRs in the country since the start of the 2015 season.

DRAFT PROSPECTS

Going from almost no recruiting pedigree to a Biletnikoff Award nomination is a true testament to Johnson’s progression. The metrics we rely on here at RotoViz, however, paint a more unclear picture. We know that a breakout season — a Dominator Rating of 0.30 or better — is extremely important. But Johnson’s adjusted breakout age (20.5) and where he falls on Anthony Amico’s regression tree warrants some pause. Just two percent of prospects in Amico’s study with similar profiles to Johnson have gone on to notch a 200-point PPR season in the NFL.

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This doesn’t completely sink Johnson’s outlook, but it is worth noting. His final age (22.2) is another slight concern based on research from Blair Andrews and puts him at a noticeable disadvantage compared to younger prospects.

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Again, this isn’t a death knell, but younger prospects tend to pan out more frequently. Johnson’s career market share of receiving yards (0.30) initially places him in a successful node on Kevin Cole’s WR Regression Tree, but when final year statistics are incorporated, the likelihood of future success drops substantially.

Despite the mediocre metric profile, Johnson has drawn praise for a variety of on-field traits deemed invaluable at the next level. Natural hands, body control, route running prowess and a high compete level are all things that stand out to those who focus on film. And according to NFL Draft Scout, Johnson’s stock is rising, currently ranked 33rd among the 2019 WR class.

As of right now I view Johnson as a mid-to-late round pick in 2019 rookie drafts based on his profile. The career-long production should get him noticed but it will likely take strong workout results for his draft stock to see a meaningful boost. His path to the NFL begins in earnest on Saturday against Arizona State where his play will likely be a major determining factor for the Bulldogs.

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