Oklahoma State could have played for a national championship last year if it wasn't for former Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson and his Cyclone teammates beating the Cowboys 37-31 in double overtime. Now Johnson will try pull another upset—making the Buccaneers roster as an undrafted free agent.
Johnson was assigned to fifth-overall pick Justin Blackmon, and did as good a job on the all-world collegiate receiver as any defender did in Blackmon's entire career. Blackmon's 10 receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown line looks good, but his touchdown came on an outstanding adjustment to an underthrown ball, and his long reception of the day — a 28-yard catch — came on a terrific throw into great coverage from the Johnson. The rest of Blackmon's catches were on short passes.
Johnson never backed down from Blackmon in one-on-one clashes and did not get safety help over the top. He clung to him in man under coverage and made aggressive plays on the ball in the air, which eventually resulted in a pick of a tipped ball that helped turn the tide in the second half. He also was a sure tackler of Blackmon in the open field, which is where he does a lot of his damage. Watch Johnson's epic clash with the best wide receiver in the 2012 draft to see exactly how he shut Blackmon down:
Tampa Bay was expected to take Morris Claiborne fifth overall, but they traded down and got Mark Barron instead. That leaves the long-term depth chart wide open with Ronde Barber likely retiring next year and problem child Aqib Talib a free agent. If Johnson rises to the occasion like he did in the biggest game of his career, he'll have something to say about how that depth chart is composed in a few years.
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