Theo Johnson’s Draft Profile | Penn State, TE Scouting Report

After a career-best 2023 and a strong Senior Bowl showing, where does Theo Johnson's 2024 NFL Draft scouting report land him on the board?

With an unsettled 2024 NFL Draft TE class on tap, where does Penn State’s Theo Johnson file in? Can Johnson challenge for early-round capital with his tape, and what kind of role does he fit best at the NFL level?

Theo Johnson Draft Profile and Measurements

  • Height: 6’6″
  • Weight: 257 pounds
  • Length: 32 1/2″
  • Wingspan: 81 1/4″
  • Hand: 10″
  • Position: Tight End
  • School: Penn State
  • Current Year: Redshirt Junior

Johnson will check plenty of boxes for NFL teams — but most of all, the athletic traits. He was a four-star recruit and a consensus top-five talent at tight end in 2019, and at The Opening, he ran a 4.62 40-yard dash and logged a 35″ vertical.

MORE: Top TEs in the 2024 NFL Draft

Following in the footsteps of Nittany Lions TEs like Pat Freiermuth and Brenton Strange, Johnson slowly worked his way up the depth chart after redshirting in 2020. He saved his best for last, amassing 34 catches for 341 yards and seven touchdowns in 2023 — all career highs.

Johnson was a team captain and a quality producer late in his career, and at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, he stood out as one of the best players at his position. Now, everyone is wondering just how high he can rise in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Johnson’s Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Explosive linear athlete with great build-up speed on crossers and seam routes.
  • Sheer explosiveness and long speed make him a nightmare to keep leverage against.
  • Has the flexibility to use curvilinear acceleration to sear through zones and into space.
  • Shows glimpses of quality stem work, using stutter steps to supplement transitions.
  • Has shown he can compound separation at stems with swim moves, swipes, and rips.
  • Can use forceful double swipes to win off releases and pry his way into open windows.
  • Experimental separator who has flashed the necessary agility and sequencing to stem.
  • Able to track passes over his shoulder vertically and extend beyond his frame in stride.
  • Has shown he can gather passes away from his frame with high-difficulty adjustments.
  • Flashes exceptional hand strength and resolve in contested situations over the middle.
  • Tenacious run-after-catch threat with strong leg churn and great contact balance.
  • Stellar run blocker who blends size, athleticism, leg drive, and mauling tenacity.
  • Attacks his assignments with voracity and is very angle and assignment-sound.
  • Capable in-line blocker and pass protector with a wide base, tight hands, and physicality.
  • Alignment-versatile presence who can be a utility blocker and be schemed RAC touches.

Weaknesses

  • Proportional length is around average, which slightly limits his extension range.
  • Despite explosiveness, is more of a slow strider who lacks high-end corrective mobility.
  • Doesn’t quite have elite hinge flexibility at stems and can’t always cut tight angles.
  • Is more of a linear mover who lacks the agility to offset at stems while stressing vertically.
  • Not a natural sinker who struggles to stack quick direction changes and lateral cuts.
  • Upright build and minimal hip sink may limit his route tree at the NFL level.
  • Is prone to using extra steps and wasted motion in an attempt to separate at stems.
  • Doesn’t have the fluidity to sustain acceleration after using rocker steps to off set DBs.
  • Lacks the route running coordination to sequence head fakes with footwork and sell.
  • Can be over-reliant on push-offs past the contact window against man coverage.
  • Sometimes drifts past sit windows and can be more calculated with his use of space.
  • With an upright running style, can be rerouted by defenders over the middle of the field.
  • Sometimes lacks control when tracking deep passes with his linear athleticism.
  • Is sometimes late to get his hands up and coordinate to passes inside his frame.
  • Hand technique, spacing, and timing can be inconsistent when extending for passes.

Current Draft Projection and Summary

Theo Johnson grades out as an early-to-mid Day 3 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft, who could feasibly generate fringe top-100 appeal after testing. Particularly as a TE2 with seam utility, RAC utility, and versatility as a blocker, he brings plenty to like.

Testing athleticism will likely sway in Johnson’s favor, and at the Senior Bowl, that athleticism was put under the spotlight. He’s a smooth, explosive vertical athlete with the speed and curvilinear acceleration to carve up seams and box out defensive backs.

Johnson’s pure long-range speed can make him difficult to keep leverage against, and he also provides value as a RAC threat in the short range. When schemed touches on swings and screens, he can accrue additional yards with his forward-pressing physicality and leg drive.

As a seam and crosser weapon and as a RAC threat, Johnson’s upside is visible, and he’s also an elite blocker to boot — with stellar technique, leveraging, usage versatility, and finishing ability. But past those categories, Johnson’s translatability is less clear.

Johnson visibly lacks the fluidity, short-area quickness, and hip flexibility to stack brisk direction changes and hip transitions, and he struggles to sink at stems as well. And as a catcher, his hand technique can be very inconsistent, which can source drops.

Johnson’s linear, slow-striding build and lack of sink and corrective mobility will likely constrict his route tree at the NFL level, and he’ll need to shore up his hand technique and coordination before he can be relied upon as a red zone threat.

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Nevertheless, Johnson profiles reasonably well as a quality TE2 who fits a niche with his receiving skill set and provides exciting utility as a usage-versatile blocking presence.

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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