The franchise tag has given organizations the upper hand over their blue-chip players since the last CBA, allowing them the luxury to lock up high-drafted players through the prime of their careers without any if’s, and’s, or but’s. Teams don’t let good cornerbacks get out of their building unless they don’t have a choice. If nothing else, the Rams have shown us that the past two offseasons. After leading the league with 7 interceptions in 2015, Johnson was franchised by the Rams over his also-talented teammate Janoris Jenkins. They used a second tag, making him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL, a year later. Without the option to keep their star cover corner around, Johnson will finally hit free agency at age 28 set to rewrite the market for the position.
Johnson started at cornerback in a diverse scheme that emphasized off-man coverage, but played quite a bit of Cover 3 and Cover 4, often asking their corners to play from a bail. Johnson traveled with number one receivers both inside and out in man coverage. He has a long, muscular frame to hold up against possession receivers and good athletic ability with good quickness and change of direction, and solid balance, acceleration, and quickness.
|Prospect (Last, First)
|Scout Name (Last, First)
|INJURIES||2017 – No Games Missed
2016 – Ankle(2 Games, WK6-7)
2015 – Thigh(2 Games, WK12-13)
2014 –Knee(7 Games, WK1-8)
2012-2013-No Games Missed
|KEY STATS||Led NFL in Interceptions in 2015(7), 67 Career Passes Defensed
2017-2 Interceptions, 13 Passes Defensed, 57 Tackles, 934 Snaps
|Height||Weight||40 YD||10 YD||Arm||Hand||Vert||3Cone||SS||Broad||Bench|
|6017||204lbs||4.61s||1.66s||33 2/8”||9 3/8”||35.5”||7.20s||4.15s||1002”||19reps|
Johnson can win however the situation dictates at the line. He stays square with quick feet and low pad level and uses his long arms to stimy most receivers at the line with one and two arm jams when he times correctly. He has the feet to soft shoe tentative receivers out of the play. In man, Johnson plays with the quickness, body control, and route anticipation to sticky to both shifty and possession type receivers over the middle of the field. He specializes in manning up with bigger number one receivers and won more battles than he lost. The corner knows how to sort through rub routes and doesn’t bite on fakes. He displays a smooth pedal with low pad level that allows him to stop on a dime and plaster to curls and comebacks or transition smoothly to a sprint downfield.
The corner is at his best playing outside third or quarter in zone. Johnson always is sure to get his hands on the receiver when playing the flat in Cover 2. He’s comfortable playing from a bail or pedal while reading the quarterback’s eyes. He knows where his help is, can recognize route combinations consistently to pattern match his man downfield, and displays elite closing speed to get underneath in-breaking routes. He has good ball skills and can get his head around to locate the ball with the aggression and leaping ability to go up and make a deflection or play on the ball. His hands are good enough, leading the NFL with 7 interceptions in 2015.
Johnson won’t get you beat in run support. He knows where to go to funnel the ball inside and is tough enough to take on lineman on power plays. He’s a willing tackler that gets guys down quickly after the catch.
Dez Bryant made him look foolish off the line on multiple occasions during their Week 4 matchup, swatting aside Johnson’s press when he was early. Johnson can get impatient at the line and will open his hips early against good stutter releases.
He’ll often give up some layups on slants and hitches due to flipping his hips too early from off. He can get grabby at the top of routes, although he was only called for 2 pass interference penalties in 2017. He’s often a beat slow to read the receiver’s body language to tip off their routes. He dropped 2 potential interceptions in the tapes viewed.Johnson is a below average open field tackler. He doesn’t always take good angles into contact and is an inconsistent wrap tackler.
Although he doesn’t stand out in any one area, Johnson achieves high level cornerback play by doing just about everything well enough. He’s the rare number one corner that can survive with the physicality of the Dez Bryant’s and Deandre Hopkin’s of the world. He’s best suited to play outside in a scheme that emphasizes Cover 3 and Cover 4, although he can be a quality starter in a man-based defense as well. If Detroit were to pony up big bucks for him, he would give them the matchup flexibility to have high-end corners on either side to take on any receiver group, much like Chris Harris and Aqib Talib in Denver.
Grade: 6.50 (Starter You Can Win With)