The Maneater

Johnson and Brown to have increased roles in 2018

Senior Nate Brown and junior Johnathon Johnson will look to step up and replace J’Mon Moore’s production in the receiving corps.

Senior Emanuel Hall will be Drew Lock’s go-to wide receiver for the upcoming season. Courtesy of Mizzou News Bureau

Drew Lock and the Missouri passing game will once again be the focal point of the offense, but Lock will need other receivers to step up this season.

Lock’s main target and 2nd-team All-SEC selection, J’Mon Moore, graduated after leading the Tigers with 65 catches and 1,082 yards before being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 4th round of the NFL Draft.

Replacing Moore at the depth chart will be senior Emanuel Hall, who had a breakout season highlighted by a strong finish in conference play.

Hall ended the year with eight touchdowns in his last eight regular-season games.

Hall will be the number one target, but Missouri will need other receivers to step up as well.

Hall has been mostly a home-run hitter for the offense. Hall was second on the team with 817 yards last season, but most of those came on deep throws downfield from Lock. Hall totaled only 33 receptions.

Redshirt sophomore Albert Okwuegbunam is another receiver who will be a big part of Missouri’s offense. He was a prolific red zone threat with a team-leading 11 touchdowns in his freshman season. Okwuegbunam wasn’t consistently used in other parts of the field though, catching 29 passes last season.

With Hall as a deep threat and Okwuegbunam as a red zone target, Missouri will need other receivers to consistently get open in intermediate areas of the field to set up the deep passes down the sidelines and to improve the versatility of Missouri’s passing game.

Lock was only able to complete 57.76 percent of his passes last season due to a combination of drops from receivers and a lack of intermediate options which caused him to force throws downfield at times.

In the spring, the depth chart showed redshirt redshirt senior Nate Brown and redshirt junior Johnathon Johnson as the starters next to Hall.

Johnson is a similar player to Hall who gets most of his production on big plays. He is the only returning Tiger who had more than 40 receptions last season, but he only hauled in nine catches in his last five games.

The 2016 All-Freshman team selection was a starter last year, but he’ll have an increased role with more responsibility in the intermediate parts of the field this season.

Brown, a former four-star recruit from Georgia, is listed as the third starter but has had a career hampered by injuries. Brown came back last year and played sparingly in 11 games after missing the 2016 season with an ankle injury.

Other receivers who will be in the mix for the starting receiver positions this season are rising redshirt sophomore Harry Ballard III and redshirt junior Richuad Floyd.

Floyd played more than Brown last year and was slightly more productive, but is also a dynamic returner for the special teams unit.

Floyd averaged just under 20 yards per punt return last season and returned two for touchdowns, including an 85-yard score against Idaho.

A quick player like Floyd could be used in the screen game as well as being used to run shorter routes in the slot.

A player with Floyd’s speed will be able to quickly separate from defenders off the line of scrimmage and also be able to run away from defenders after the catch to turn shorter throws into big plays.

These kinds of routes will give Lock easier throws to improve the efficiency of Missouri’s passing attack. The shorter throws will also force safeties to creep up the field to set up the deeper throws to outside receivers like Hall and Johnson.

For depth in the receiving corps, sophomore Harry Ballard III is an interesting recruit from St. Louis. He originally committed to Missouri as the ninth-ranked recruit from the state of Missouri in 2016 before being forced to go to Jones County Junior College, where he played before finally coming to Missouri.

Ballard showed flashes of playmaking ability in a 129-yard two-touchdown performance in a loss against eventual national champions East Mississippi Community College.

Ballard could be a good depth option for Missouri, and can offer big playmaking ability like Hall and Johnson.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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