The ever increasing chasm of time that separates the end of the college football and the season and the NFL draft perpetuates this obsession with measurable physical attributes. It’s the reason prospects such as Byron Jones and Breshad Perriman garner incredible hype and perhaps more polished, yet not as athletically gifted, prospects such as Kevin Johnson are overlooked. The Dallas Cowboys in this draft (unfortunately) have selected who I believe to be the second best cornerback and the best player available at a position of need.
The current Dallas Cowboys current starting cornerbacks are the injured Morris Claiborne, who has doubts regarding his ability anyway, and Brandon Carr who is good but being paid far more than he’s worth. There is a yawning dearth of young talent in the Dallas secondary and Johnson would be a corner they can build around. Their defence still needs talent in the trenches but with all of the top defensive lineman already gone by the Cowboys’ pick there’s no need to reach like they have done in previous years.
At 6’1 and 188 pounds Johnson has the build of an NFL cornerback despite criticisms regarding his thin frame. He is arguably the most fluid of all the cornerbacks in this class and he can turn his hips quickly and smoothly all the way down the field. His 6.79 second 3 cone drill time and 3.89 second 20 yard shuttle time substantiate the agility that his tape shows. He’ll need every bit of that fluidity as well in a division with lightning receivers such as Odell Beckham, Desean Jackson and of course Riley Cooper. Johnson possesses above-average man coverage skills both in press-man and off-man technique, the kind of versatility that Dallas’ defensive scheme covets.
There are concerns about Johnson’s use of hands, for example in the game against Florida State he got away with a couple of holds on Rashad Greene, the kind that would be immediately flagged in the NFL. He conceded 132 total penalty yards in his last two seasons at Wake. This will be evident in his first season as he cuts his teeth and makes rookie mistakes but it’s a fixable issue. There also worries about his length, with only 31" arms he may struggle to make plays against larger receivers however his natural instincts and nose for the ball should not make this a significant issue. Watch this clip of him covering Clemson tight end Stanton Seckinger, who is 4 inches taller and 65 pounds heavier than Johnson.
With his build, his contribution in run support can be questioned but this more of a physical issue rather than mental. Johnson exhibits willingness to engage in run defence and in the screen game. He is sometimes over-aggressive in this respect however that is encouraging considering corners of Johnson’s ilk, such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie seem to be allergic to physical contact. Here’s a clip of Johnson making a play against a screen pass:
In conclusion, Johnson is a polished corner who I believe to be the best player available in this scenario. Unfortunately he will immediately upgrade the Cowboys’ secondary and continue their recent trend of successful drafting in the early rounds.
1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (slickpablovick) - Jameis Winston, QB, FSU - [Explanation]
2) Tennessee Titans (mchiodo) - Leonard Williams, DE, USC - [Explanation]
3) Jacksonville Jaguars ("Snax") - Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, UF - [Explanation]
4) Oakland Raiders (kylebruneault) - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama - [Explanation]
5) Washington Redskins (BigTimeTMZ) - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - [Explanation]
6) New York Jets (4thand26) - Kevin White, WR, WVU - [Explanation]
7) Chicago Bears (rohan915) - Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson - [Explanation]
8) Atlanta Falcons (GMinTraining) - Danny Shelton, DT, Washington - [Explanation]
9) New York Giants (Grandpapa Joe) - Landon Collins, S, Alabama - [Explanation]
10) St. Louis Rams (deg0ey) - Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa - [Explanation]
11) Minnesota Vikings (ablesser88) - Trae Waynes, CB, MSU - [Explanation]
12) Cleveland Browns (djcunningham) - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville - [Explanation]
13) New Orleans Saints (del.champion) - Shane Ray, DE, Mizzou - [Explanation]
14) Miami Dolphins (drc242) - Jalen Collins, CB, LSU - [Explanation]
15) San Francisco 49ers (SleepingDuck) - Randy Gregory, OLB, NU - [Explanation]
16) Houston Texans (JaviYL) - La'el Collins, OT, LSU - [Explanation]
17) San Diego Chargers (StoneColeKiller58) - Bud Dupree, OLB, UK - [Explanation]
18) Kansas City Chiefs (jimmyrustler) - Andrus Peat, OT, Standford - [Explanation]
19) Cleveland Browns (NowWhat?) - Malcom Brown, DT, Texas - [Explanation]
20) Philadelphia Eagles (sports00fan00) - Jaelen Strong, WR, ASU - [Explanation]
21) Cincinnati Bengals (Zach_The_Gamecock) - T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pitt - [Explanation]
22) Pittsburgh Steelers (KJ Brophy) - Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon - [Explanation]
23) Detroit Lions (KamiKazeJEDI) - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin - [Explanation]
24) Arizona Cardinals (ItownBallers22) - Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA - [Explanation]
25) Carolina Panthers (AndyMcNabb) - Shaq Thompson, LB, UW - [Explanation]
26) Baltimore Ravens (dceagles) - Byron Jones, CB, UConn - [Explanation]
27) Dallas Cowboys (kamjam) - Kevin Johnson, CB, WFU - [Explanation]
28) Denver Broncos (WubbaLubbaDubDub) -
29) Indianapolis Colts (ei78) -
30) Green Bay Packers (Nka727) -
31) New Orleans Saints (SwoopThereItIs) -
32) New England Patriots (naderg43) -