The Eagles should look to improve their depth at cornerback this offseason. While veterans Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are likely to stick around for 2014, the Eagles need to add talented youth to develop behind them for the future. While Brandon Boykin has proven be an elite as an elite nickel back, it is important to add to the young talent at cornerback, so that their is not only depth but future starters on the roster. North Carolina State cornerback Dontae Johnson may be an option on Day 3 for Philadelphia's front office.
A talented basketball player and high school safety from New Jersey, Johnson committed to NC State in 2010. As a true freshman, he was a backup safety for the Wolfpack. He appeared in nine games and collected 19 tackles and pass breakup. In his second season, Johnson served as the nickel back and started two game at linebacker. He produced 27 tackles, three sacks and three pass breakups.
Johnson became a starting cornerback as a junior. The versatile teamed with current Redskins cornerback David Amerson and current Eagles safety Earl Wolff to form an impressive secondary. He started in 13 games in 2012 and collected 65 tackles, one sack and eight pass breakups but missed two games due to injury.
As a senior, Johnson started at left cornerback and free safety. He started in all 12 games, but played on a Wolfpack squad that lost its last eight games and finished 3-9. He managed 80 tackles, three interceptions and two pass breakups in his final year at NC State.
He was named to the Senior Bowl and had two tackles (one for loss) and a pass breakup in the game.
Weight: 200 lbs
Arm Length: 31 1/2"
40: 4.45 seconds
Bench: 12 reps
Vertical Jump: 38.5 inches
Bench Jump: 124 inches
3 Cone: 6.82 seconds
Shuttle: 4.24 seconds
Johnson has excellent size and speed for both cornerback and safety. Experienced in every aspect of the secondary, Johnson could eventually compete at all four positions. He is a feisty player that can be aggressive in coverage. He can play off and press man coverage, but mostly played off at NC State. He has good hips and breaks well on the ball.
He will wrap up as a tackler and will help against the run. He is very vocal on the field and seems to have solid instincts. He also uses his height well in coverage and has speed to stay even with faster wide receivers.
He does tend to shoulder tackle every now and then, which causes him to whiff at times. He was badly beaten by Sammy Watkins against Clemson this past season and part of that has to do with how far he plays off at times. He has a tendency to give too much cushion in coverage, which allows for easy receptions. He can get lost in coverage and be hesitant to make a play at times. He is a bit timid with the ball in the air at times.
Johnson is similar to Williams actually. He has length, is feisty and can play in off or press man coverage. The Eagles will clearly love his size and he is a good developmental player with starter potential. He was on tape with Earl Wolff just one year ago, so the Eagles likely are very aware of him. He could be a nice fourth or fifth corner for next season and would be probably be valuable on special teams. The Eagles could also use him as a backup safety as well. With his coverage ability, he could be an asset and a play-maker at that position.