The Colts prospect interviews are finishing up as we approach the NFL Draft this week. Today’s player interview is Toledo wide receiver Diontae Johnson. The Colts could use a slot receiver along with a special teams ace and Johnson fits the bill in both of those areas.
The interview will be towards the bottom of the page, as he interviewed exclusively with Stampede Blue to talk about playing alongside Cody Thompson and Jon’Vea Johnson, what makes a great route runner, and how he’d like playing with Andrew Luck and T.Y Hilton.
5’10” 183 pounds
40 Time: 4.53 / 10-yard split: 1.59 / Bench Reps: 15 Reps / Vertical Jump: 33.5 inches / Broad Jump: 125 inches / 3-Cone: 7.09 seconds
135 catches for 2,235 yards and 23 touchdowns. 78 kick returns for 1,826 yards and 2 touchdowns. 17 punt returns for 343 yards and 2 touchdowns in his career.
Fit with the Colts:
Johnson may not have the greatest size or athleticism, but he makes up for that with his versatility and nuance. Johnson is an excellent route runner who excels at winning at the line of scrimmage and working his way open. He is also a dangerous return man, and would give the Colts a much needed boost in this area. If the Colts want to upgrade their slot from Chester Rogers, grabbing Diontae Johnson in the middle rounds would be a great investment.
The first things that pop are Johnson's release at the line and his route running. He is really advanced in these two areas of his game.
Toledo's Diontae Johnson (@Juiceup__3) is a creative route-runner with quick, efficient feet. He's one of the better separators at the short and intermediate level in this class.— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) April 7, 2019
Dude just always gets open. pic.twitter.com/hyhVABtVSK
Johnson has the deep play ability and after the catch ability to be a big play threat, as well.
89-yard deep ball to Diontae Johnson! pic.twitter.com/FMk85LmjPF— Toledo Football (@ToledoFB) November 2, 2017
The return game, however, is where Johnson truly shines. He could be one of the best returners in the league one day. Johnson was one of the top returners in college.
ZH: You were a talented player in Florida during your high school career. What went into the decision to attend Toledo?
DJ: Coach Candle was the coach at the time, and he came and found me at one of my games that I did real well. I didn’t really know much about the school until I went on a visit. I liked the area and the coaching staff and I felt like it was the right place for me to be at. Toledo stuck with me through everything and stuff like that.
ZH: You played alongside two talented receivers in Cody Thompson and Jon’Vea Johnson at Toledo. What was it like to be in such a talented receiver room?
DJ: It was good, because we were able to learn from each other. Obviously, we have different playing styles, but just to be able to sit in the film room with them and pick each other’s brains and let each other know what we did wrong here and there was just a good experience. Not too many people get that experience, to be apart of something like that, and it was just great, man.
ZH: Would you say that you guys were the best receiving trio in college football?
DJ: Yeah no doubt, hands down. The numbers we put up and things we did as a group, I feel like nobody is ever going to do what we did again in my opinion.
ZH: Where would you say is your best fit in the NFL? In the slot or on the outside?
DJ: I would say slot because of the matchup mismatches and what not. I can play both in or out because I’m so versatile and I have the ability to do just about anything my coaches ask of me.
ZH: You were an outstanding special teams player in your career. Do you think that is an area that you can immediately contribute at in the NFL?
DJ: Oh yeah, certainly. Just what I can do with the ball in my hand and being able to play kick returner or punt returner gives me a boost for teams. A lot of teams are really high on me because of my ability as a receiver, and that ability to play special teams. I feel like I can come in and help a team out real fast on special teams, and that is really what I want to play. After that, if I get a chance to play offense, I can show what I can do on that side of the ball as well.
ZH: I like to ask this of a lot of receivers I interview. What is the key to be a great route runner? What makes a guy elite in this area of their game?
DJ: You gotta be able to win at the line of scrimmage. That is where the play starts. If you can’t win at the line of scrimmage, then the route is dead. Obviously, you gotta be able to run every route in the route tree and have good hands, but you gotta win at the line of scrimmage, because that is where the play starts at.
ZH: Who in the NFL do you model your game after/compare yourself to?
DJ: I watch Stefon Diggs a lot. Just the way he comes out of his breaks, and gets off of the line, and catches the ball in traffic, I really try to model my game after him. Being that we are the same height— he weighs a little bit more than me— I would say that our games are pretty similar and I compare myself to him.
ZH: These last two are going to be Colts centered questions. First, how cool would it be to get the chance to play alongside T.Y Hilton and Andrew Luck if Indy were the team that drafted you?
DJ: It would be a great experience for me. Just being able to play with those type of guys who have had great success would give me a chance to soak up as much information as I can to better my game. The ability to learn under T.Y Hilton— that is another one of the receivers I model my game after— and playing with a guy like that would really help me. To learn from a guy like that and take the little techniques he has and apply it to my game would just be awesome.
ZH: What is my team getting if they spend a draft pick on you in this draft? What separates you from other receivers in this class?
DJ: Just my versatility. I can play both in and out and even special teams too. A lot of receivers in this draft don’t play special teams, they are just receivers. I feel like I have the upper hand on them because I can play special teams and receiver. There aren’t too many people that can do things with the ball in their hand like I can and make people miss like I can. I’m just being humble about it but I just feel like I’m better than anybody they compare me to.