Bill Belichick got some face time Thursday with one of this year’s top receiver prospects.
TCU’s Quentin Johnston chatted with Belichick and Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh during his pre-draft pro day, as seen in a video shared by CBS Sports’ Garrett Podell.
Johnston is projected as a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and could be a target for New England at No. 14 overall. The Patriots have drafted just one Round 1 wideout during Belichick’s coaching tenure (N’Keal Harry, 2019), but Johnston would fill a need for a Patriots team that lacks top-tier talent at the position.
A 6-foot-3, 212-pound perimeter receiver, Johnston caught 60 passes for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns during his final season with the Horned Frogs. Here’s what we wrote about him in our rundown of potential Patriots wideout fits:
A very different player from (fellow projected first-rounders Jaxon) Smith-Njigba or (Zay) Flowers, Johnston is a prototypical “X” receiver who averaged 19.0 yards per catch over three seasons at TCU. His broad jump and vertical jump both ranked in the 93rd percentile or better among wideouts, illustrating his elite explosiveness. The knocks on Johnston? He doesn’t always play with the proper level of physicality, and he’s had issues with drops. He also was a no-show in the Horned Frogs’ blowout loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game (one catch, 3 yards).
Johnston did not run the 40-dash at the combine but reportedly was clocked in the 4.5-second range by scouts on Thursday.
The Patriots previously met with Johnston at the NFL Scouting Combine. He described that meeting as “very fun and exciting” in a recent interview with NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry.
“I walked in, and obviously everybody was happy to see me,” Johnston said on “The Next Pats Podcast.” “But it went smooth. We had good conversation. I felt pretty confident going out of that meeting.”
New England already made one significant change to its receiving corps earlier this offseason, swapping out Jakobi Meyers for veteran free agent JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Patriots also brought in receiving-focused tight end Mike Gesicki to replace the underperforming Jonnu Smith.
Wideouts DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton and tight end Hunter Henry are set to return from last season’s squad.
The Patriots also met with TCU running back Kendre Miller both before and during Thursday’s pro day.