What Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson lacks in athleticism and speed, he makes up for with great confidence in his talents.
Johnson had an extremely productive senior season for the Boilermakers. Let's take a look at what Johnson brings to the field and what his outlook is in the NFL.
The way that Johnson plays the ball when it's in the air is special. Whether he's planting his foot and driving on the ball or playing a jump ball in the air, Johnson does a great job of breaking up passes and making plays.
Johnson also has quick feet and shows good fluidity throughout his hips. He's confident in both the run and pass game, and has a knack for making plays.
He was a successful three-year starter, so he has the experience to produce quickly for an NFL team.
Johnson lacks the elite speed needed to keep up with the top receivers on the outside in the NFL and that limits his ability to turn and trail receivers.
There are also concerns about his issues with receiving too many penalties in the secondary. Too often, Johnson will attempt to get physical down the field and draw pass interference calls.
Johnson could also improve his overall technique in terms of staying low during his backpedal.
Since Johnson isn't known for his athleticism, his overall performance at the NFL combine was rather average as his 4.65 time in the 40-yard dash and 35" vertical were some of the worst at his position.
His best tools are his strength and understanding of the position.
Johnson started three years for Purdue and was one of the Boilermakers' most productive and consistent cornerbacks. He has a strong work ethic and should be a positive addition to an NFL locker room.
Although he has experience in both, man and zone coverage, Johnson spent a good amount of time playing press coverage without any safety help during college.
He also has good quickness to play off coverage and the instincts to succeed with a team that plays mostly zone.
Playing the Ball
This is one of the strongest parts of Johnson's overall game.
He does a fantastic job at locating the ball while it's in the air and making a play, notching three interceptions and 19 passes defended in his senior season.
Johnson also does a great job at planting his feet and driving hard on the ball on underneath routes.
Against the Run
Johnson's physicality really shows when playing the run. He has good technique when wrapping up the ball-carrier and is also successful when he needs to cut-tackle.
Owning solid instincts when sniffing out the run, Johnson also shows skill at shedding blockers in the open field and making a play.
There is a confidence to Johnson's game when he is in man-to-man coverage that is enjoyable to watch. He gets good jams at the line of scrimmage and is comfortable being left alone on an island.
Johnson has the leaping ability to be successful against jump balls, but needs to improve at not becoming too physical and getting penalties.
Johnson does a good job at reading the quarterback's eyes when in zone coverage. He has a natural feel for when receivers are in front of him or behind him. He drives on the ball hard on underneath routes and consistently wraps up receivers.
At 5'10" and 199 pounds, Johnson has the size and tenacity to become one of the better-tackling cornerbacks in the league. He's a violent tackler who hits through opponents.
He has good technique and doesn't back down from bigger players.
There is definitely room for improvement in Johnson's overall technique. He struggles to maintain balance during his backpedal and will sometimes lose his balance.
Johnson can also be too aggressive at times which causes him to get beat by double moves.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Johnson has the tools to play in either man or zone coverage in the NFL. He's physical enough to be left on an island on the outside. However, he'll need to improve at making difficult plays and cut down on his penalties to be a truly effective cornerback in the NFL.
Look for Johnson to become a solid contributor on defense and special teams early in his career for an NFL team.
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