Once the top few safeties come off the board, the position fizzles out in the middle rounds. But Arizona State safety Keelan Johnson could be a hidden gem in the later rounds.
After a five-interception season as a senior at Arizona State, Johnson was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention. And for the past two seasons, he's been a steady piece of the Sun Devil defense.
As a senior, Johnson was around the football a lot. He intercepted a team-high five passes and recorded 88 tackles. He has an impressive build, which helps him as a tackler.
Johnson is solid in pass coverage and in run defense. He's a versatile player, able to line up all over a formation.
Johnson takes some poor angles in run support and when tracking the ball in pass coverage. When the ball is in the air, Johnson struggles to locate the football.
At 5'11.5", 209 pounds, Johnson has the build needed to be an every-down safety at the NFL level. But he's not extremely quick and shows limited range in coverage.
There are no known concerns regarding Johnson's character.
He has some flexibility as far as lining up in different positions.
Johnson was used primarily in two-deep coverage. He blitzed occasionally off the edge and was often used in the box as an extra run defender. He also covered receivers man-to-man in the slot.
Playing the Ball
Johnson was around the ball often, but struggled to go up and make plays on the football. Most of his interceptions were "right place at the right time" plays.
Against the Run
At 209 pounds, Johnson is plenty big to get physical against blockers and make plays in the running game. He's a more consistent player against the run than he is against the pass.
Although he excels at the point of attack, he sometimes gets into trouble by taking poor angles when pursuing the ball-carrier.
Johnson wasn't often asked to cover receivers man-to-man, but he did do it on occasion, especially tight ends and slot receivers.
He's a middle-of-the-road cover man, but that wouldn't be his primary role in the NFL.
In two-deep coverage, Johnson played his role well and was relatively assignment-sure. Johnson was often near the football, as he carried out assignments routinely.
Johnson has a solid build with a physical mentality. He's a traditional wrap-up tackler, but lowers his shoulder and tries to deliver the big blow to unsuspecting receivers.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Johnson will appeal to teams that line up in multiple defensive fronts. Early in his NFL career, his role is likely solely on special teams, but he could develop into a rotational safety down the road.
(He should be a sixth- or seventh-round pick.)
St. Louis Rams
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!