There are four things to know about Jacksonville Jaguars newest receiver Collin Johnson.
He values the history of his teams.
He’s ready to meet Gardner Minshew II and get started.
He knows he’ll bring even more to the Jags than what’s expected.
He’s tall; really tall.
Let’s just go ahead and begin with that last one.
Johnson, the Jags fifth-round pick out of Texas, is 6’6”, 222 lbs.
“It’s definitely a benefit,” mulled Johnson while on a call with local reporters following his selection Saturday in the 2020 NFL Draft.
“I used to think the best thing for a receiver is to be tall and then due to the draft process a lot of people kind of have a knock on that, think that I’m too tall to change direction, things like that, when I know what I bring to the table. I feel like I’m in a unique situation. I know how to change direction, then drop my hips and get in and out of my breaks as a big guy.
The average height of the Jaguars receiver corps is 6’1”. The average height of the Jaguars cornerback unit is 5’11”. While Johnson won’t be facing his own defense in games, they stand as a good barometer. And Johnson stands half a head taller, something the Jags noticed.
“They mentioned mis-matching my height with stuff and things like that, but obviously you can’t teach height. You know I’m thankful to be as tall as I am, but also I feel like a part of my game that I’m really good at is my route running, so I feel like I have more than just being a tall receiver.”
It’s the latter part of that statement that is the next thing to know about Johnson. He’s aware of his listed limitations. He’s also aware of his ability to overcome them.
“I think I’m faster than people perceive me to be. I also think I can get open and at the end of the day they want you to be fast so you can get open. So as long as you can get open you see guys like Jerry Rice not running that fast, Keenan Allen, you know Jarvis Landry and you can go on and on a list of guys who figured out a way to get open and play at that extremely high level in the NFL that didn’t have blazing 40 (yard dash) times. You know, there are ways to do it, but I definitely think I’m faster than what people give me credit for.”
Johnson wasn’t able to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February due to a hurt groin. He finished his Longhorns career with 188 receptions (sixth-most in school history) for 2,624 yards (fifth-most in school history) and 15 touchdowns. Maybe it was the inability to workout at the Combine, or the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 that canceled Johnson’s Pro Day and team workouts.
Maybe it was the speed or lack thereof. Johnson isn’t going to focus on why he fell to the 5th round in the draft. He’s just going to focus on what he can do now as a Jaguar.
“It’s important to understand what’s in your control and what’s not in your control and that’s what I kept repeating to myself over and over throughout the draft as days and picks were ticking and going on.
“I feel like I’m just very thankful that I got a shot, you know? A lot of people get into where you get drafted and yah-da-ya-da-yah-da, but you know I got my opportunity and I’m excited to take it and run with it. I’m the type of guy I feel like I got all the intangibles to be a good pro, you know I’m going to show up every day early and be the last one to leave, I’m that type of guy. I’m going to make other people around me be better and go to work. So in me they get a guy that will give them his absolute best no matter what the circumstances are and I feel like that’s contagious for the team, so I’m just excited to help the team win.”
Helping the team win will rely largely on Johnson’s ability to connect with Minshew, both literally and figuratively. Until now, Johnson admits his knowledge of Minshew has been limited to, “I know about his stache, but honestly I don’t know much other than that, other than he’s a good quarterback and my new teammate so I’m excited to work for him.”
In his rookie season, Minshew went 6-6 as a starter, throwing for 3,721 yards with a 60.6% complete percentage and a 21-6 touchdown to interception ratio. Johnson wants to be a factor in Minshew building on his electric—and eclectic—rookie season.
“I just want to let him know I’m a guy that wants to learn. You know I want to know the playbook; I want to know routes he likes, what he feels comfortable with and just communicate because I think that’s just the most important thing, is being on the same page with your quarterback. So I’m the type of guy who loves to learn and go in there and pick his brain and just get better.”
Maybe between the two of them, they can create some new history for Jacksonville. That’d be important to Johnson. He’s a California native out of San Jose, but always knew he’d end up at Texas. It was where he had history.
His father is Johnnie Johnson, a UT All-American defensive back who spent 10 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. Both Collin and his brother became Longhorns like their dad. Johnson says there is the expected competitiveness and trash-talking along with plenty of lessons from his dad the defender. But it’s the understanding of a legacy that is important to Johnson, who plans to study right away on the team that believed in him.
"I need to be caught up on all that stuff and now that I know where I’m playing, it’s time to dig deeper in the history and the past of the Jags because you know I’m big on history of where you play.
“That feeling when you get the call is unbelievable and you know the team that believed in me, I just can’t wait to go to work for them. And being with the Jaguars I’m so excited to be a part of that franchise.”