How Quentin Johnston can help Chargers, Justin Herbert take the top off defenses

Check out the best plays of newest Charger Quentin Johnston (1:49)

Take a look at some of the best plays from Quentin Johntson's college career at TCU. (1:49)

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco says he’s never met a coach who didn’t want speed on his roster.

Telesco’s staff is no different.

However, the 2022 Bolts lacked the type of speed that's crucial to create an explosive offense.

That no longer is expected to be an issue.

With a first-round pick, the 21st overall selection, the Chargers selected TCU receiver Quentin Johnston, a 6-foot-4, 208-pound deep-threat target who also possesses an ability to create after the catch.

“He’s big, strong and fast,” said Telesco, entering his 11th season as general manager. “He has some physical characteristics that we think he can add to our offense in a different role.”

Translation: Quarterback Justin Herbert should have every opportunity to air the ball out in 2023.

“What I can do with the ball in my hands is something that, I feel like, it's a no-brainer for somebody to pick me,” Johnston said after his selection.

Herbert, entering his fourth season, has a complete arsenal of playmakers, including receivers Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer, running back Austin Ekeler and tight end Gerald Everett. The Chargers will attempt to improve on their 10th-ranked average of 22.5 points per game last season.

First-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who held the same post with the Dallas Cowboys the past four seasons with his offense ranking in the top four in points per game (27.7), yards per game (391) and third-down conversion percentage (44%), said creating explosive opportunities has been among topics discussed throughout the offseason.

“It’s a collaborative effort,” Moore said. “At the end of the day, when you do have explosive opportunities, you need to take advantage of those. It's a quicker way to get to the end zone and, ultimately, when you look at the statistics, explosive plays [have] a huge impact on who's winning games.”

The Cowboys under Moore ranked 11th in rate of explosive plays (10.1%), qualified as a 10-yard run or 20-yard pass play, while the Chargers the past two seasons under former coordinator Joe Lombardi ranked 30th (8.1%).

“Kellen's offense is going to bring some more explosions with it,” Telesco said, “and then adding this receiver in the draft, who had a ton of explosive plays in college -- both on long balls and on short passes that he took the distance, I think he can add there.”

Last season, the Chargers ranked fifth in the NFL in receiving yards after contact (688), while Johnston ranked third among all Power 5 players in receiving yards after contact (241). And the Bolts had only two players who averaged more than two yards per route run last season with Allen and Williams averaging 2.22 and 2.0, respectively, while Johnston averaged

3.04 – the best in the Big 12 and eighth in the FBS.

“All Quentin needs to do is come be himself,” coach Brandon Staley said. “He's a weapon to score the ball any time that he touches it.”

Johnston, who turns 22 in September, credits his ability to create after contact with also competing in basketball and track, along with his competitive mindset.

“It's a want to get extra yards, a want to keep fighting for yards, a first down, things like that,” said Johnston, who produced 1,069 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Horned Frogs, who played in the national title game last season. “I feel like it has been instilled in me long ago in high school and it's just something that's been carried out with me throughout my college career.”

Among areas he must improve include dropped passes, but neither Moore nor Staley expressed concern.

“There are no perfect players, all of these guys have something,” Staley said.

And, as Moore described, what Johnston has is a “vertical element” that can make an explosive impact.

“We’re really excited,” Moore said. “With Q, just the size, catch radius. He goes up and gets the ball downfield. You can do it however you need to do it, whether it’s size, catch radius and speed. He definitely brings a vertical element to us.”

If Johnston’s speed alone wasn’t enough, the Chargers also added his TCU teammate, Derius Davis, with a fourth-round pick. Following the departure of DeAndre Carter to the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency, Davis will step in immediately as a kick and punt returner, but Staley said he could provide an added weapon as a fifth receiver.

“Was the fastest guy at the combine, a 4.3 guy, real juice. Five returns for touchdowns. Proven production in both phases,” Staley said. “Then, gives you that fifth receiver element, too. He was an outstanding offensive weapon for that team, as well, factoring in your offensive football team.”

When asked to evaluate his first draft with the Bolts, Moore grinned.

“Brandon is this defensive guy and he's drafting these offensive guys, I like this,” Moore said, referencing Staley’s role also as defensive playcaller. “It's a lot of fun.”