Is Theo Johnson headed for breakout?

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With the uncertainty surrounding Darren Waller’s availability, the New York Giants have made a strategic move by drafting Theo Johnson from Penn State in the fourth round. Johnson’s impressive athletic profile and potential make him an intriguing prospect for the Giants’ thin tight end roster.

Theo Johnson enters the NFL with a reputation as one of the most athletic tight ends in recent drafts. Standing at 6’6″ and weighing around 250 pounds, Johnson combines size with notable speed and agility, making him a versatile threat both in the passing game and as a blocker.

During his final year at Penn State, Johnson caught 34 passes for 377 yards and seven touchdowns. While these numbers might not leap off the page, they highlight his red zone effectiveness and potential to develop further. His performance at the Senior Bowl also turned heads, showcasing his ability to compete against top-tier talent.

Given Darren Waller’s uncertain status and the overall lack of depth among the Giants’ pass-catchers, Johnson has a significant opportunity to make an impact. Jarrett Bailey of Touchdown Wire included Johnson in his 2024 NFL All-Breakout Team, underscoring the rookie’s potential to become a key offensive player.

Johnson’s competition for the top tight end spot is relatively thin, which could expedite his rise up the depth chart. If Waller remains sidelined, Johnson could find himself as the primary tight end target for the Giants. His ability to stretch the field and make contested catches would be invaluable for the Giants’ offense, which has struggled with consistency and explosiveness.

Johnson’s main strengths lie in his athleticism and versatility. He has shown flashes of being a capable two-way tight end, with the potential to contribute both as a receiver and blocker. His physical traits make him a mismatch for defenders, particularly in the red zone.

However, Johnson will need to address some areas of his game to maximize his impact at the NFL level. His collegiate production was limited, partly due to inconsistent quarterback play at Penn State. Improving his route running, consistency in catching, and honing his blocking skills will be critical for his development.

Theo Johnson represents a high-upside investment for the New York Giants. With the potential absence of Darren Waller and a lack of established talent at the tight end position, Johnson could see significant playing time early in his career. If he can leverage his athletic traits and continue to develop his skills, Johnson might emerge as a breakout star for the Giants in the 2024 season. Fans and analysts alike will be watching closely to see if he can capitalize on this opportunity and solidify his role as a key contributor to the Giants’ offense.