Oct 7, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston College Eagles defensive back John Johnson (9) during the first quarter against Clemson at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
John Johnson faces an uphill climb for respectability in the 2017 NFL draft. Does his scouting report reflect the needed potential?
School: Boston College
Weight: 202 lbs
A football and basketball star in high school who not only made plays but emerged as a leader of men. Landed at Boston College due to their strong defensive background and academics. Saw action almost immediately as a freshman. Had a chance to go pro as a junior but chose to finish school instead.
Has the size and build of an NFL safety. Doesn’t look like his body will succumb to injury after just a couple hard shots during a season.
Read-and-react time is solid. Gets to the football with urgency once he figures out where it’s going. Not prone to bad mental mistakes.
Has that safety body but corner athleticism. He frequently showed he could match up with a tight end or big wide receiver in coverage and hold his own.
Tackling prowess is above-average. Ball carriers tend to go down once he gets his hands on them. Shows up most when he plugs running lanes in the box.
This play showcased so many of the good things about Johnson. It starts with the range and how he’s able to run down a wide receiver from one side of the field to the other. Then it’s the tackler. He doesn’t just dive to trip the guy up. He executes a textbook form-fit tackles to eliminate any hope of breaking. Then it’s the simple feel in space and navigating around obstacles to find the football.
Good ball skills. Does the right thing by finding the football in the air rather than playing the receiver, which would invite penalties.
Not afraid to lay the lumber on opponents, but also does it within the rules. Never leads with the helmet or aim high towards the head.
Prone to hesitation at times when trying to find the football. Can really hamper his reaction time. Needs to work on his decisiveness.
Most of his issue center around his unwillingness to be the “alpha.” In other words he must learn to be the aggressor at all times.
Has a tendency to drift a little too far from his landmarks, leading to widened gaps for ball carriers to slip through. Must learn to maintain his position.
Pro Comparison: Micah Hyde
Hyde took some time to figure out his role in the Green Bay Packers defense but he has found it and has really grown into well. He made a lot of big plays for them in 2016. A sort of cornerback/safety hybrid who can play near the line of scrimmage but has coverage skills. A “tweener” in the good way. Hyde may not have star power but he’s got plenty of value.
Projection: 2nd-3rd Round
Johnson has all the tools of a potential stud at the safety position. Maybe not a head hunter but a reliable tackler with above-average ball skills in coverage. In the modern NFL he is what teams seek. Unfortunately playing at a less advertised program and being lost in a loaded class makes him a likely Day 2 selection. Which means one team out there could get a steal.