Dontae Johnson, CB, North Carolina State (HT: 6’2⅛”; WT: 200 lbs.)
Fourth Round: 129th Pick
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- Excellent size and frame, boasting the third-tallest measurement of defensive backs at the NFL Scouting Combine.
- Ran an extremely impressive 4.45 40 time at the NFL combine, which would be impressive enough if he didn’t play at that speed, but Johnson was rarely beaten downfield due to speed issues. He plays as fast as he measures, which is very rare for his size.
- Tracks the ball well when playing off-man coverage, as he reads the quarterbacks eyes, and is improving at locating the ball once the receiver starts reacting to an incoming pass.
- Surprisingly smooth and fluid hips for a big player. Most guys with his size are stiff, limiting his burst after changing directions. Having clean movements raises his projected ceiling because he should be able to recover better than lesser athletes.
- Post-snap technique is good, and he showed improvement in backpedal and footwork at the Senior Bowl in January. He stays low, with his shoulders and feet squared.
- Good closing burst when the ball is arriving to the target. His mixture of quickness and length will make quarterbacks have to thread the needle on the sideline. Poorly placed balls can be intercepted.
- Used his size well when he faced Vanderbilt star wide receiver Jordan Matthews in 2012 and also at the 2014 Senior Bowl. His length bothered the All-SEC receiver, and he was able to deflect multiple passes.
- Physically strong player, as he could shed blocks well and had no problems tackling ball-carriers.
- One of the best tacklers in the draft class, Johnson shows the ability to be a dependable, wrap-up tackler. His eagerness to finish the play is not common to see from a cornerback.
- Spent time at both free safety and cornerback, and with the NFL putting a premium on size, he will likely play cornerback. He has a high ceiling due to general lack of on-field experience and the growth he’s shown in the last few months, mixed with his tremendous physical tools.
- Played mostly in off-man and Cover 3 zone, and he has great press potential. His strength and initial punch flashed that he can improve over time.
- Play recognition is still underdeveloped, as he doesn’t react quickly to run plays. He is often well downfield on run plays, unable to make an impact within the first 10 yards.
- Needs to clean up his footwork on comeback routes. He lost his balance too often because he will give up too much space between himself and the receiver and scrambles to get back to the receiver. He looked better at this at the combine, but can he do this in pads?
- Struggled locating the ball while in man coverage at times, instead focusing and reacting to the receiver watching the ball. This will lead to penalties and missed turnover opportunities. As he becomes familiar and more comfortable at the position, he could improve here.
- Change of direction is pretty good for a man his size, but it is not elite. He has to anticipate routes better and play the break in the route before it happens.
- Matchup against Clemson star receiver Sammy Watkins exposed his acceleration and lateral quickness. Although Watkins is a rare athlete, Johnson clearly did not have the ability to mirror him and stay with him at all times.
- Started five games at cornerback and seven at free safety in 2013.
- Graduating with a degree in sport management.
- Twitter handle is @2Johnson5.
- Former 3-star recruit out of Pennington, N.J., via Rivals.com.
Dontae Johnson finished the regular season as a potential mid-round draft pick due to his size and speed combination. After his excellent performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, expect to see teams considering Johnson early on Day 2 of the draft. He needs good coaching to reach his potential, but his physical ability is at the top of this class. He can become a very good starter within his first few seasons.
Draft Projection: Second Round