There has been a lot of talk about the incredible value the Cardinals got in the 2019 draft.
Kyler Murray was considered to be the best quarterback in the draft and a generational-type talent. Byron Murphy fell to the Cardinals at the top of the second round, a defensive back that many projected to be a first-round pick and the Cardinals’ top five-graded player on their draft board.
Cardinals used the second-round pick, acquired from the Dolphins, to select Andy Isabella, now considered “a little beast” by head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Zach Allen was given a first-round grade and was a no-brainer pick at the top of the third round. Hakeem Butler and Deionte Thompson were projected to go early on day-two the draft but somehow were available in rounds four and five respectively.
The attention has all been on them, but what about their sixth-round pick KeeSean Johnson?
When I watched him on tape before the combine, I came away impressed with his ability to win 50-50 balls. He has been praised for his great work ethic and his precise route-running. He can play on the outside or inside. His versatility fits the Cardinals perfectly.
Although Johnson was projected to be a day-two pick, a big reason why he fell in the draft was because of his combine results. He ran a 4.6 40-yard dash, had a 30-inch vertical, and posted a 7.28 3 cone drill.
His combine numbers might not be impressive but his tape doesn’t lie.
Take a look at his stats starting from his freshman year to his senior season.
2015: 37 receptions, 337 receiving yards, two touchdowns
2016: 66 receptions, 774 yards, six touchdowns
2017: 77 receptions, 1,013 yards, eight touchdowns
2018: 95 receptions, 1,340 yards, eight touchdowns
Adding on to his impressive resume, Johnson broke all of former Palo Alto receiver Davante Adams’ Fresno State records in receiving yards (3,463) and consecutive games with a catch (50). He improved with every season and played a lot faster than what his 40-yard dash indicates.
Take a look at the speed of a couple of NFL’s top wide receivers. Davante Adams ran a 4.56 40-yard dash while DeAndre Hopkins clocked in at 4.57. They’re not burners either but they can beat defensive backs with their smarts.
Here is what GM Steve Keim had to say to KeeSean Johnson when he was given the call that he’ll be selected by the Cardinals:
“KeeSean, when I got the chance to watch you on tape I thought you were one of the better route runners in this draft”
He responded with “i’m gonna prove it to you.”
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how fast a player ran at the combine or where they got drafted. It is about seizing the opportunity to prove to the coaches that he belongs in the NFL.
He has a big chip on a shoulder and will wear No. 19 because he was the 19th receiver taken in the draft. When it is all said and done, Johnson might end up being one of the best players from his draft class.