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Quentin Johnston

Can first-rounder make Year 2 leap?

Saw a story yesterday that the Chargers remain high on last year's first-round wideout Quentin Johnston. He struggled as a rookie, of course, and a lot changed in the offseason that could help -- or hurt -- his chances. What will his second season bring?

Perhaps the most notable development is a new coaching staff, with Brandon Staley replaced by Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh and coordinator Greg Roman seem likely to emphasize the run. But they'll certainly be passing the ball at times, and there have been some changes that might benefit Johnston.

Keenan Allen is in Chicago. Mike Williams is in New York. Joshua Palmer is Joshua Palmer; a serviceable player but not a star. The team added Ladd McConkey in the second round and Brenden Rice in the seventh (for those believing Jerry Rice's son is being underrated), but rookies sometimes need time to adjust to the pros. The idea of Johnston being one of the team's top 2 wideouts this year is hardly far-fetched.

I looked at the last 10 years of wide receivers selected in the first round who had minimal impact as rookies. I went with players who ranked outside the top 50 at the position in PPR leagues. Johnston was the only one of last year's first-round wideouts (the others: Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers and Jaxon Smith-Njigba) who didn't rank that high last year.

The percentage of those players breaking out in Year 2 is pretty low. Twenty-one other first-rounders fit the profile. Of those players, only two -- Brandin Cooks and Corey Davis -- finished in top 30 at the position in PPR leagues. One who just missed, at least, was a former Charger (Mike Williams). But DeVante Parker was the only other top 50 guy.

Table is sorted by ranking in PPR leagues in Year 2 for those wideouts.

FIRST-ROUND WRS OUTSIDE TOP 50 AS ROOKIES, YEAR 2 (2014-PRESENT)
DraftPlayerNo(1)Rec(1)TD(1)Rk(1)No(2)Rec(2)TD(2)Rk(2)
2014Brandin Cooks, N.O.53550456841138914
2017Corey Davis, Ten.3437508565891429
2017Mike Williams, LAC11950139436641133
2015DeVante Parker, Mia.2649437856744450
2022Jahan Dotson, Was.3552375149518456
2016Josh Doctson, Was.266017035502657
2016Will Fuller, Hou.4763536128423761
2015Breshad Perriman, Balt.00099933499377
2015Phillip Dorsett, Ind.18225111033528279
2022Jameson Williams, Det.141115824354382
2020Henry Ruggs, L.V.2645228924469286
2017John Ross, Cin.00019921210786
2015Nelson Agholor, Phil.23283110136365287
2016Corey Coleman, Cle.3341338323305292
2020Jalen Reagor, Phil.3139629133299296
2019N'Keal Harry, N.E.12105212433309298
2021Kadarius Toney, NYG39420089161713106
2021Rashod Bateman, Balt.46515170152852111
2016Laquon Treadwell, Min.1150188202000121
2015Kevin White, Chi.000999191870123
2022Treylon Burks, Ten.33444278162210124
2023Quentin Johnston, LAC38431274????????????

I don't think anyone should be giving up on Johnston. The Chargers aren't, and that makes sense. I recall a few plays last year where there was some potential (not many, but some). A pair of 5-catch games (Chicago and New England), a 91-yard performance against Denver. Justin Herbert is still a pretty good quarterback. It can happen.

But in drafts it's pretty sure you'll see McConkey and Palmer selected earlier. Johnston is a worthwhile late-round flier, but not a lot of cause for optimism with him. Guys of his general profile who didn't do much as rookies seem to be longshots to do much in their second seasons, either.

--Andy Richardson

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