Vertical Coverage - Ideal length and long speed to challenge wide receivers vertically. When his technique is right, can ride receivers to the boundary and is a daunting physical task for many smaller wide receivers to overcome. Can play through the receiver and struggle to find the ball vertically. Gives up his blind spot too frequently at times, allowing receivers to break routes off comfortably underneath.
Fluidity/Agility - Has shown the ability to flip his hips and get vertical pretty seamlessly. Labored change-of-direction limits impactfulness in space. Balance is a concern against route runners who step on his toes and invade his space a little. Gives up separation at will, easily falling for any deception in the route stem. Mirror-and-match ability is limited, grabs and hold a ton as a result.
Ball Skills - Allowed a couple of catches despite being in good position down the field, showing a lack of awareness and ability to find/high-point the football. Needs to play the pocket a lot better. Technique in this area is all over the place. As a former wide receiver, would like to see more natural ball skills than you do. When he does find the ball, length and leaping ability help him play big at the catch point.
Click-and-Close - Super slow transitions out of his pedal and can struggle to close down on routes breaking in front of him as a result. Length and speed once he gets going help a little bit, but doesn’t have the processing or footwork to be really threatening at the catch point in these situations.
Press Ability - Understandable given just two years of experience at the position, but technique is currently a mess. Fires the wrong hand at times, can play impatient or is rocked back on his heels and gets off-balance when he tries soft-shoe technique. Guesswork in press more than nuanced understanding and processing of releases. Opens his hips early and can struggle to recover.
Route Recognition - Extremely raw in zone coverage and doesn’t process quickly enough to be impactful. Still learning to process route combinations and can get his feet stuck in the mud as the wheels turn. Missing natural instincts to play with anticipation in this area.
Tackling - Size and tackle radius allow him to get his target on the ground more often than not. Flashes of physicality in his tackling, but can be a latch and drag down tackler with little hitting power far too often. Can take some bad angles to the ball and struggle to adjust on the move. Technique is still coming along.
Run Support - Willing run supporter who comes up to tackle on the edge. Does not get off blocks as well as you’d hope he would given his size and length. Plays high and can get leveraged out of run fits due to his pad level and lack of technique. Shows some hesitancy to stick his nose in the box or take on bigger blockers at times.
Competitive Toughness - Plays with an edge and chirps all game long. Talked trash nonstop in Mobile during 1v1s. High-effort player the majority of the time, likes to set a physical tone with receivers. Did seem to get worn down late against Texas Tech, Memphis.
Athleticism/Size - Elite height, length, weight and wingspan for a cornerback prospect. Super physically imposing for a corner, and tested off the charts athletically despite that fact. Rare speed and agility results for any corner, let alone a huge one.
BEST TRAIT - Athleticism/Size
WORST TRAIT - Technique
RED FLAGS - None
An extremely raw cornerback who converted from wide receiver two seasons ago, Johnson is on the NFL’s radar for two reasons, and neither are his tape: unbelievable length and impressive athleticism. There are simply not many cornerbacks this big and this fast with this kind of leaping ability, which all but ensures Johnson will go off the board earlier than many players at his position with far superior tape.
After that, good luck. Everything from Johnson’s footwork, press technique and ball skills will need major development at the next level, and he is currently nowhere close to being an on-field contributor. Playing cornerback does not come naturally to him, with a lack of instincts that is troubling when trying to determine how great his upside could be. In general, I tend to have little faith in the NFL’s ability to develop a player as all-around raw as Johnson, especially at the cornerback position, but on day 3 he is worth a flier in my opinion.
Round Grade: Early Round 5