In the trade that sent defensive end Michael Bennett to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Seattle Seahawks got back not just a fifth round pick, but wide receiver Marcus Johnson as well. Samuel R. Gold took a look at Johnson’s route running and whether fans can expect Johnson to be ready day one to step in and take over for Richardson on offense.
No one is expecting an undrafted second year player to step right in and replace Richardson, a former second round draft pick in full immediately, however, Johnson still has three years of team control left. Having been on the Eagles practice squad for only a few weeks at each of the beginning and end of the 2016 season, Johnson did not accrue a season that year.
As such, Johnson will effectively be a second year player with three years of team control in a wide receiver room that is packed with young potential. Amara Darboh is a second year receiver who the team may be expecting big things from in 2017, as is David Moore. In addition, if the team opts to move J.D. McKissic back to receiver from running back, he would also be a second year player.
Looking even deeper, the Seahawks have Cyril Grayson on a reserve/futures contract, though with only a single season of football practice under his belt since high school, any expectations for Grayson for 2018 are likely to be minimal. However, all of these names combine to form a good sized group of fast wide receivers, as we see here.
40 times of Seattle WRs
Obviously there is a lot more to playing receiver than simply a fast 40 time, however, the former Seahawks coaching staff was able to coax 33 receptions and 451 yards out of Ricardo Lockette during his time with the team. Lockette has been tagged as the most apt comparison to Johnson, as they both possess phenomenal in line speed with less impressive agility.
In any case, through the first three seasons of Richardson’s NFL career he totaled less than 600 yards receiving, so Johnson could spend much of the next couple seasons developing before needing to truly take over for Richardson. In addition, the Seahawks already have Tyler Lockett, who filled the WR2 spot in 2016 until breaking his leg on Christmas Eve.
Richardson’s production from the WR2 spot - 703 yards and 6 touchdowns - is really not all that different from the production the team has gotten from the WR2 spot in the past. As a rookie in 2015 Lockett had 664 yards and 6 touchdowns while also being an All Pro return on special teams, and he followed that up with 597 yards and one touchdown in 2016 despite suffering multiple injuries over the course of the 2016 season.
Touching a bit more on the special teams aspect, Richardson was extremely limited in his special teams contributions compared to some other receivers. In fact, Richardson was on the field for fewer special teams snaps during his four years in Seattle (56) than Marcus Johnson played in ten games for the Eagles in 2017 (59), and that again brings us back to the Ricardo Lockette comparisons.
Marcus Johnson's spider graph and at 6-1/205 his highest comparison is... Ricardo Lockette pic.twitter.com/BSsCRT8PV1— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 7, 2018
Prior to suffering a career ending injury against Dallas during the 2015 season, Lockette was a phenomenal special teams player, particularly on punt coverage. With the combination of his size, speed and fearlessness, Lockette was a key member of the coverage unit that went into Week 17 with a chance to set the record for fewest punt return yards allowed over the course of a season. Does Johnson bring the same kind of special teams potential to the Hawks as Lockette?
In order to better address that question, we have been lucky enough to get some insight from Brandon Lee Gowton, the Manager & Editor-in-chief at Bleeding Green Nation. When asked for his thoughts on Johnson, here is how he responded:
Marcus Johnson signed with the Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2016. I don’t remember him making a huge impression during OTAs. During training camp, however, I saw an actual Eagles depth chart that had him ranked higher than anyone would’ve expected. Soon after, Johnson ended up getting hurt and missing the rest of the summer before being waived with an injury settlement. He then signed with the Eagles’ practice squad late in the 2016 season.
Johnson made a good impression during 2017 OTAs. He even got some reps with Philadelphia’s first team offense on occasion. NFL insider Adam Caplan, who is really plugged into the Eagles, said the team was high on Johnson after the receiver’s spring performance. Johnson’s presence was one of the reasons they felt comfortable cutting bait with Dorial Green-Beckham. (Thought DGB was awful anyway.)
Johnson’s strong showing continued in 2017 training camp. He struggled with drops at times but he was mostly sure-handed. He also did a good job of flashing the vertical speed that matches up with his 4.37 40-yard time. I can remember him often burning Patrick Robinson deep. He even stood out for his effort on special teams.
Johnson began the season as the team’s fifth receiver on the depth chart. He beat out 2017 fifth-round pick Shelton Gibson, who was kept inactive as the sixth receiver. Johnson mostly played on special teams but the Eagles would actively try to give him a few offensive snaps here and there. Johnson never did anything overly impressive where he convinced the Eagles to keep playing him. The feeling is that he didn’t make the most of opportunity, so they made the switch to activating Gibson late in the season. So it seems like the Eagles felt like they gave him a fair chance and were ready to move on.
From what I can tell, Marcus seems like a good kid with a great work ethic. He was nice enough to join one of our BGN Radio podcasts last offseason.
I think he has the chance to be a contributor for Seattle. I wish him the best.
Blazing straight line speed, issues with drops and a strong special teams contributor? To me, that sounds a whole lot like Lockette, and it was during Lockette’s third season in the NFL that Seattle brought home a Lombardi. So, obviously, with 2018 set to be Johnson’s third year in the NFL, it’s fairly obvious that the Seahawks will be bringing home the Lombardi next season.