It’s not difficult to foresee a player like Quinnen Williams or Marquise Brown taking a step forward and flourishing in Year 2. That’s merely how the learning curve often works in the NFL for top prospects. It’s the guys who weren’t even shoe-ins to make a roster last season, let alone to start early on in their career, that I’m more interested in. These are five players drafted in the fifth round or later in 2019 who have drawn rave reviews in training camp and could be in line for a breakout season.
First-round draft status is often a golden ticket to a starting job out of the gate in the NFL — especially when there’s no established starter at the position. That hasn’t been the case this fall for Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The Vikings released their first unofficial depth chart this week, and it’s 2019 seventh-round pick Olabisi Johnson who is listed as the starter alongside Adam Thielen. That’s good news for Johnson’s prospects going forward, especially considering the Vikings run a good deal of 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends, two receivers).
Filling in for Thielen last season, Johnson was wholly unspectacular. His 1.03 yards per route ranked 90th out of 101 qualifying receivers. He was hardly targeted, seeing 41 looks on 340 pass plays. If he’s done enough to hold off Jefferson, though, he could be the second fiddle in the Vikings' offense.
That’s nothing new for Johnson, as he ceded targets to the likes of Preston Williams and Michael Gallup as an ancillary option at Colorado State. In his final year of college, Johnson caught only 54 of 75 targets for 796 yards and four scores. Still, he had quality all-around athletic testing and an NFL-ready body type at 6-foot, 204 pounds.