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- Position: Cornerback (CB)
- Class: Senior (redshirt)
- College: Wake Forest
- Ht/Wt: 6'0", 188 pounds
If there's one thing Rex Ryan's defense likes, it's a collection of explosive cornerbacks who can handle man coverage. Kevin Johnson impressed me on film, and I think he could do a nice job managing one side of the field in an NFL defense.
The thing that stood out the most when I watched Johnson was how cerebral he played. It's clear that he has great vision, as he almost always keeps his eyes on the quarterback during a pass route and anticipates a pass very well. Not only is his vision good, but he seems to be a player who uses his head during plays. Watching him versus Florida State this year was a real treat, because he and Jameis Winston had a chess game going back and forth all game trying to bait the other player into making a mistake. You had Johnson faking man coverage and dropping into a zone, causing Winston to pump and throw the ball out of bounds. You had Winston using his receivers on crossing routes to move Johnson to the middle, allowing him to pick on a weaker corner on the boundary. Johnson would come unblocked on a corner blitz, and Winston would pump fake to get Johnson to jump, then float a pass to the boundary for a first down. Johnson would play off coverage, Winston would pick on it, and Johnson would already be in place to break up the pass.
Johnson is a fluid and explosive athlete with enough long speed to play as a boundary corner. He has a smooth backpedal and can quickly transition out of it in any direction. He's a physical corner, capable of making hard tackles, and he isn't afraid to use his hands and arms to control receivers. Unfortunately, he can go overboard, leading to pass interference calls.
The biggest issue I have with Johnson is that he didn't trust his deep speed enough. He'd often line up 10 or 12 yards off the ball, backpedal early, or transition early out of a backpedal, and that was far too much of a cushion for receivers on shorter patterns. In run support, he again shows excellent awareness and runs up to make tackles in a hurry, but he gets blocked away too often. He showed good ball skills when playing toward the quarterback, but tracking the ball over his shoulder was less successful. I also worry about his small hands possibly hindering his catching ability.
Johnson is the type of player I love to watch play. He shows good integrated technique in his game and has outstanding awareness on the playing field. Combine that with his good athleticism, and I see an eventual long-term starter at the position. I'd pick him in the second round.