INDIANAPOLIS – We’ll have to wait a couple more weeks to get a better handle on just where University at Buffalo wide receiver Anthony Johnson stacks up against his NFL Draft competition.
Johnson said Friday he will not run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine Saturday. Johnson tweaked his ankle at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., five weeks ago, and he wants to be closer to 100 percent before he shows off his speed.
“I’m going to do everything, but I’m not going to do the 40,” Johnson said during the receivers’ media session at the Indianapolis Convention Center. “I’m going to do the 40 at my pro day because when I was training I had to like back up on some things due to my ankle. So I’m going to hold out on it until the pro day.”
UB’s pro-day session is March 13 in Orchard Park.
The 6-foot-2, 209-pound Johnson is a big, physical receiver who dominated at UB, catching 133 passes for 2,367 yards and 25 touchdowns the past two seasons.
How well will he get separation downfield against NFL cornerbacks? A decent time in the 40-yard dash probably would reassure some pro scouts that his timed speed matches the speed he showed on tape.
The prevailing opinion of some NFL scouts before the Senior Bowl was Johnson likely was a second-day draft pick (a second- or third-rounder), as long as he showed he could run in the mid-4.5-second range in the 40.
Asked if he’d be satisfied with a 4.55 time, Johnson said, “I’m decent with that.”
On NFL.com’s latest mock draft, Johnson is projected as a late third-rounder, No. 89 overall. (The third round goes through pick No. 102.)
CBSSports.com lists Johnson at No. 96 overall and the No. 12 wide receiver.
NFL Draft Scout ranks Johnson lower, in the fifth round and at No. 22 among wideouts.
The Sporting News’ Greg Gabriel, the former Bears college scouting chief, ranks Johnson as a second-rounder – “unless he runs poorly.”
“I feel he’s underrated,” Gabriel said.
The prime example of Johnson’s physicality came on his career-highlight play, the 29-yard touchdown catch with 59 seconds left that won the game for UB against Temple in September. Johnson made a contested catch over the middle on a 5-yard in-route and broke three tackles on his way to the end zone.
“I’m a physical receiver,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty hard to tackle me. That’s my favorite play. I’ll always remember that play. I’ll always go back and watch that play. I have tears in my eyes when I watch it.”
Asked what he needs to prove based on feedback he seems to be getting from NFL scouts, Johnson said: “Probably to be more explosive off the ball. I’ve been working on those things when I’ve been training. I’ve got that down pretty much.
“Probably just separation, getting more separation in my routes,” Johnson said. “At the same time I feel like at the next level, a lot of guys don’t really get a lot of separation. Not all of them. As long as you can make those contested catches, hard catches, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you make that play.”
Bulls hire O-line coach: UB has hired Scott Fuchs, a 25-year veteran of college coaching, as its new offensive line coach. Fuchs spent the past five seasons as offensive line coach at Wyoming. UB head coach Lance Leipold worked with Fuchs at Nebraska-Omaha from 2004-06.
Fuchs replaces Daryl Agpalsa, who left UB after four seasons for Northern Illinois.
Meanwhile, UB promoted Jeff Burrow to safeties coach. Burrow spent last season as the Bulls' director of player personnel. Prior to arriving at UB in 2018, Burrow served as Kent State's safeties coach from 2011-17 and was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2017.
Fuchs helped develop Wyoming All-America center Chase Roullier, who started for the Washington Redskins last season. Prior to Wyoming, Fuchs coached at his alma mater, North Dakota State, from 2009-2013. Fuchs was an All-America guard for North Dakota State in 1993.
Leipold also announced that defensive coordinator Brian Borland will move from coaching safeties to coaching cornerbacks. Taiwo Onatolu will now coach defensive ends and special teams after coaching cornerbacks the past three seasons. Chris Simpson has added defensive run game coordinator to his duties as linebackers coach.