How will the New England Patriots use the 14th overall pick in this week’s 2023 NFL Draft? Matthew Judon has one particular target in mind.
In a recent NFL Network interview, the Pro Bowl edge rusher said he’d take TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston at that spot.
“You can’t have enough offense,” Judon said. “I like Quentin Johnston from TCU. I think he’s a long, rangy guy. He has exceptional hands. He can catch anything, and he can stretch the field. I believe he was good against man, he was good against press, he was good every year he was at TCU and all he did was make big plays in big-time games.”
Johnston is widely viewed as one of the top wideouts in this year’s draft, with most analysts projecting him as a first-round pick (though few expect him to go as high as No. 14). At 6-foot-3, 208 pounds, he’s a big-bodied outside receiver who boasts a different skill set than the other premier prospects at his position (Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison, etc.).
Last season, Johnston starred for a TCU team that made a surprise run to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, catching 60 passes for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 17.8 yards per catch in 2022 and 19.0 in his three-year college career.
“I think that’s eventually somebody you can’t leave 1-on-1,” Judon said on NFL Network, “and I think as he grows into the offense, he’s just going to make our offense boom even more and he’s going to be a deep-ball threat. I think he’ll be good matched up with Tyquan (Thornton) because those are two fast guys.”
The Patriots showed interest in Johnston during the pre-draft process, with head coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Matt Groh both attending his pro day. Johnston also met with New England representatives at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Receiver is one of the Patriots’ top roster needs, but they’ve rarely targeted that position in Round 1. N’Keal Harry (32nd overall, 2019) is the only first-round wideout they’ve drafted during the Belichick era. They did make an aggressive move for a receiver early in last year’s draft, however, trading up four spots to take Thornton with the 50th overall pick.
The 2023 draft begins Thursday night and runs through Saturday.