Jaquan Johnson, S
School: Miami | Conference: ACC
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22?
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 190 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd or 3rd Round
NFL Comparison: Lamarcus Joyner
Jaquan Johnson was a 4-star recruit from Miami, FL who chose to play for the hometown Hurricanes despite receiving offers from Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, and many other notable big time programs. Johnson wanted a chance to play immediately and he got his chance during his freshman season. He started out on special teams but as the season went on he got worked into the safety rotation. Johnson really came into the national spotlight during his junior season (2017) when he was named to the All-American 2nd team. That season he earned Miami’s turnover chain several times with 4 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, as well as 2 fumble recoveries. Johnson is on the small side for a safety but is extremely competitive, physical, and can fly all over the field. He is a prolific and sure tackler and he has the range and speed to stick in coverage. Manny Diaz, Miami’s former defensive coordinator,
now Temple’s head coach now Miami’s head coach used Johnson a lot at the LOS to help cover the run and apply pressure. He also let Johnson drop back and cover the middle of the field too. Johnson considered coming out early but former Miami and NFL safety Ed Reed who is a mentor of Johnson’s convinced him to return for his senior season. I think Johnson has the skills to play either safety spot in the NFL and some teams may even entertain moving him to slot corner. Johnson will have to answer questions about why some of his production fell off this year on a Miami team that underwhelmed all season but I think he should remain one of the top safety prospects this year.
- Extremely competitive and active player. He’s all over the field and flies to the ball especially in the box. Has great closing burst and is a solid and reliable tackler. He converts his speed to power really well for a player with his stature and can stop players much bigger than he is. Johnson has 188 tackles over the past two seasons.
- Good anticipation and timing in coverage, read and react ability is there and doesn’t hesitate much, uses his closing ability to break up passes. When patrolling the middle in zone coverage he can break in space and cut off the routes of receivers. Same goes for working in underneath zones.
- Has some versatility concerning which safety spot he’ll play at the next level depending on team scheme. Man coverage is decent enough that he could even be asked to play nickel.
- Fearless player who will take on any guy on the field.
- The elephant in the room is his size. With his body of work if he were 3 inches taller and 15 lbs heavier he’s unquestionably be in the 1st round conversation.
- Related to the above sometimes he can get washed out at the LOS by offensive linemen. Has to learn how to disengage more effectively. If playing from the S spot this is particularly perilous if a stop isn't made at the second level.
- Much better zone player than man cover guy. I don’t think he should be moved from the safety position. Testing numbers (vertical, 40) will be important for him to score well in considering his stature.
Let’s see his work:
I’m a part of the Jaquan Johnson hive. He’s not as talented as the guys like Thornhill, Adderley, or Thompson, but intangibles wise I don’t think there’s a better S in the class. A true alpha S that’ll knock your teeth out. Great processor who has shown ball skills. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/zm8KuOezBv— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 18, 2018
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
In my earlier safety profile for Mike Edwards the headline alluded to how the position was filled with uncertainty. That’s still the case and will be the case until the Redskins do something to address the position besides shoot themselves in the foot. Johnson could be a fit for the team at both safety spots and I would seriously consider giving him some time at free safety where he can show off his range and coverage skills. If that doesn’t float the defensive coordinator’s boat Johnson should do just fine at box safety and would bring some nice consistency and toughness to the position. He’ll mix it up with anyone and has a nose for the ball. He’ll come up and help play the run, he’ll blitz the QB and he’ll cover receivers and tight ends as well. I’m not sure if some college QBs flat out didn’t see him or underestimated him because of his size but Johnson made a living in 2017 picking off passes by jumping routes when he was in underneath coverage. I’m not sure how many packages the Redskins have that have a robber in them but he would be good in this role as well. The Redskins secondary has struggles with tackling and being able to anticipate and close in zone coverage. These are strengths of Johnson and even if nothing changes with the defense going forward his presence should upgrade the unit considering his skillset. Johnson has the skills to come in and start right away.