Following a four-season career with the Gophers which saw him set multiple school records, wide receiver Tyler Johnson took the next step towards realizing his dream of playing in the NFL on Saturday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Johnson in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Johnson was the 161st player selected overall. He was the 21st receiver drafted, but according to his head coach, the Buccaneers can expect to Johnson to exceed expectations in the NFL.
"Tyler Johnson is one of the best football players in the country, period," said Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck prior to the Draft. "He has been nothing but awesome for me and he has been nothing but awesome for this program, the state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis and the Twin City area."
In his time with Minnesota, Johnson became the program's all-time leading receiver with 3,305 receiving yards and 33 touchdowns, both school records. Last year, he led the team in receptions (86), receiving yards (1,318) and receiving touchdowns (13), setting single-season program records in each of those categories. Johnson received First-Team All-Big Ten honors in 2019.
Leading up to the Draft, some teams had concerns regarding Johnson's speed, as he opted to not run the 40-yard dash and the NFL Scouting Combine. However, Fleck says, there is still a lot to like about Johnson's game.
"He's incredibly productive," Fleck said. "He can work in space really well, he can play outside, inside. He controls his body really well, can go up and get the 50-50 balls. He can play underneath, play intermediate, play over the top. Does a great job of understanding body position. He's only going to keep getting better."
Johnson became the third Gophers wide receiver to be drafted since 2000, joining Ron Johnson in 2002 (123rd overall) and Eric Decker in 2010 (87th overall).
In Tampa Bay, Johnson will join teammate Antoine Winfield Jr., who the Buccaneers selected yesterday in the second round. Johnson returns to the site of his final college game, Raymond James Stadium, where he earned Outback Bowl MVP, catching 12 passes for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns.