During the preseason you may have been surprised to hear that, in an offense that would include Chris Olave, Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry, that Juwan Johnson would wind up as the second most productive pass catcher for the New Orleans Saints in 2022. The third-year player from Penn State and Oregon has made the transition to tight end seamlessly after spending the first two years of his career at wide receiver. Johnson is yet another undrafted free agent gem found by the Saints, joining the team in 2020. After spending his rookie year primarily on the practice squad, Johnson became a part of the 53-man roster during his sophomore season, playing in 14 games and catching 4 touchdowns in 2021.
The biggest game of his second season was the opener, as Johnson caught two touchdowns in the Saints Week 1 rout of the Packers. Johnson would only catch two more touchdowns the rest of the year, but the talent had shown for the first time in his NFL career, turning Johnson from a practice squad mainstay to an interesting prospect on the Saints offense.
Johnson’s 2022 campaign got off to a slow start, as he did not catch a TD until Week 7 against the Cardinals. Johnson caught two touchdowns on Thursday Night Football, and this set-in motion how the rest of his season would play out. Johnson would ultimately catch 7 touchdowns in the final 10 games of the season, the third most in the NFL among tight ends behind only Travis Kelce and George Kittle. His biggest moment of the season was a touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter against the Falcons in Week 15 that would ultimately prove to be the difference in the game and was Johnson second touchdown of the afternoon. In all, he caught 42 passes for 509 yards and 7 TDs, more than doubling his output from 2021.
The shift from wide receiver to tight end is tough, as the position requires you to be much more physical and have a hand in the blocking scheme. Johnson had no issues with this transition to a more physical game, as he proved to be a very effective blocker despite weighing just 231 pounds, nearly 20 pounds under the league average at the position. Johnson’s 61% of offensive snaps was second on the team only to Andy Dalton, as he found himself a regular part of the offense at a position the Saints desperately needed help at.
Johnson will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and the Saints should definitely prioritize bringing him back on a multi-year deal. He has earned it.
Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter at @HaydenReel.