The Houston Texans will have to keep watching Tyron Johnson this preseason.
Undrafted free agent signing Tyron Johnson is making a strong case for himself to earn a spot on the roster of the Houston Texans as the preseason continues.
The rookie wideout from Oklahoma State made his Texans debut Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers, catching two passes for 48 yards, and he was the leading receiver on the field, for either team.
Since training camp began, Johnson has played well, connecting with quarterback Deshaun Watson nearly every day. With his showing against the Packers and three more preseason games left to play, can Johnson secure a spot on this roster?
Houston currently has three wide receivers that are guaranteed a roster spot in DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Keke Coutee. Houston will most likely carry five to six receivers to open the season, so that leaves between two-to-three roster spots available.
More from Houston Texans News
- Houston Texans: Can Sean Payton really be the next head coach?
- Houston Texans Draft: Michael Mayer should be a no doubter at pick 12
- Houston Texans already telling fans the Davis Mills era is over
- Houston Texans have hand forced, waste no time in firing Lovie Smith
- Houston Texans: Pros and Cons of keeping Head Coach Lovie Smith
Fighting with Johnson for those last few of roster spots are Vyncint Smith and DeAndre Carter. Both of these receivers made the roster last season and contributed in-game. In 2018, Carter caught 22 passes for 216 yards but never found the endzone.
Smith, however, did, catching five passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. Smith’s lone touchdown of the year came in clutch, a 35-yard catch in the back of the endzone that nearly gave Houston the win over Philadelphia.
Johnson is the biggest unknown commodity of the group, but his upside is substantial for the offense.
Beginning his collegiate career at Louisiana State University, Johnson saw the field sparingly as a freshman, only appearing in four games. He finished his first year in the NCAA with nine catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Following that first collegiate season, Johnson wanted the opportunity to reportedly play in a more “wide-open offense.” This came directly from Johnson himself, who gave an interview with ‘The Advocate’ prior to his transfer. While at LSU, he was also playing in a loaded wide receiver corp where playtime was limited. This is what forced the wideout to transfer to Oklahoma State University, a bigger opportunity, and that’s exactly what he found.
In his first season with the Cowboys, Johnson saw playtime in 10 games. Johnson was still limited on snaps, but saw an increase over his time at LSU. He caught 18 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns, but wide receiver wasn’t his primary duty that season.
Johnson was used as one of Oklahoma State’s kick returners, and in 13 returns Johnson accumulated 264 yards, averaging over 20 yards per return. His role was shifted away from this the following season, as he did not return any kicks in his final year at OSU.
Entering his junior year, Johnson was moved into a more prominent role in the offense. During his final season at with the Cowboys, he caught 53 passes for 845 yards and seven touchdowns. Johnson was second on the team in receiving yards, receptions and touchdowns all behind then-sophomore, Tylan Wallace.
Johnson capped off his season by being named offensive MVP in the Liberty Bowl. In that final game as a Cowboy, Johnson caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
The wideout never blew up the stat sheet while in college, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Collegiate productivity is not the marker for a good pro, physical ability is and Johnson has plenty of that.
Johnson was not invited to the NFL Combine held in February. His only opportunity to show off his physique was at his pro day, and that’s what he did. The only category that Johnson stumbled in was the vertical leap, posting a height of 30 inches.
At the 2019 NFL Combine, the fastest 40-yard dash time clocked in at 4.31 seconds ran by Parris Cambell — now a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Johnson runs a 4.34, putting his 40-yard dash time as the fifth-fastest time in this year’s class of rookies. Additionally, Scott Wright of ‘The Oklahoman’ reported that Johnson did not drop a single catchable pass at his pro day.
Johnson’s speed is truly next level. The rookie wideout is primed to fight for a position on this team, but speed alone will not cut it. Houston already has two burners that are more than capable of taking the top off a defense, Coutee and Fuller. The newly competitive tight end corp is also making a case for themselves as competent receivers. Not to mention recently acquired running back Duke Johnson who excels in the passing game.
Earning a spot on the 53-man roster seems attainable for Johnson at this point, but to make it on the 46-man active game day roster, Johnson will need to show his ability in the red zone, an area where he has struggled at times. Only two of Johnson’s scores in his final year came within the red zone.
Currently, the only reliable red zone wide receiver in Houston is Hopkins. The Texans need another wideout to step up in this area of the field. With Johnson measuring in a 6-1, he has the height to do it, but will he be able to?
With three preseason games left to play, there is still plenty of time for Johnson to prove that deserves a spot on the roster. In the last game Joe Webb was Johnson’s quarterback, a third-string player.
Johnson’s chemistry with starter Watson is what will be relied upon once the season begins. Hopefully, for Johnson, the pair get a series or two together before roster cuts begin in a couple of weeks to see how he handles playing with the top quarterback on the roster.