Gardner-Johnson is a 5-10, 210 pound safety who played three seasons at Florida. He racked up 161 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 12 passes defensed, nine interceptions, four sacks, and three defensive touchdowns in 35 games.
BGN’s Michael Kist has CGJ as his fourth ranked safety in this year’s draft. Here’s what he wrote:
One of my longer film sessions; it takes a while to get a feel for CGJ’s game. In 2017 you saw more free safety reps and maddening consistency issues. In 2018 those tackling issues were largely cleaned up, but came from alignments closer to the line of scrimmage. That’s what makes CGJ exciting and concerning. You can feel comfortable projecting him to a box and nickel role, but is the tackling 100% corrected? You feel like he has the range to dabble in single-high, but what of his tracking and angles to the ball from that alignment? There’s a lot to like from his tape and enough versatility to ignore the blemishes. It also helps that there’s clear evidence that man coverage won’t be a weakness. He can wear a lot of different hats, but will they stay on consistently? I’m willing to bet they will and that CGJ will make a meaningful impact to a team’s defense backfield no matter where they line him up.
Summary: Can start early as a strong safety that doubles as a nickel in “big packages”. Capable of eventually handling increased single-high responsibilities.
Grade: 68.4 (Late 2nd Round)
The Eagles clearly value versatility in their safeties so it’s not a surprise to see CGJ on their radar. Safety is also a need for Philly with Malcolm Jenkins turning 32 in December and Rodney McLeod set to be a free agent after 2019. CGJ could make sense for one of the Eagles’ two selections in the second round. It doesn’t hurt that he has Howie Roseman’s #GatorBias potentially working in his favor. Neither does the fact that CGJ could project as a McLeod replacement.
Here’s another scouting report from NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. Zierlein’s NFL comparison for CGJ is ... Nate Allen.
Big, athletic defensive back who requires tape study from 2017 and 2018 assess his optimal usage. Some teams will see him as a big slot defender who can blitz, support the run, handle zone duties or play man on big receivers and matchup tight ends. Others will see him as a Cover-1 high safety with the range and ball-tracking to take it away over the top. Gardner-Johnson is too often a step behind in his reads and reaction allowing completions that could be breakups. His versatility and talent could make him an early starter with a high-ceiling if he can put it all together.
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Florida S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
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