Lonnie Johnson Jr., CB
School: Kentucky | Conference: SEC
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22?
Height / Weight: 6’2” / 213 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd or 3rd Round
NFL Comparison: James Bradberry
If a team is looking to add a large, physical cornerback to their defense’s secondary this offseason, they might want to consider drafting Lonnie Johnson Jr. He was 4-star recruit coming out of West Side High School in Gary, Indiana. After receiving more than a few scholarship offers, Johnson committed to Ohio State. Unfortunately, poor grades kept him from being eligible to play for the Buckeyes. Instead Lonnie enrolled at Garden City Community College and recorded 5 interceptions as a Freshmen. But again, he struggled with academics and made the mature decision to sit out the 2016 season so that he could focus on school. Sitting out that year to get his grades up paid off as he received another chance to play for a Power 5 school. Head Coach Mark Stoops of Kentucky realized the potential that Johnson possessed and lured him down to Lexington. During his last two years on campus he played for what most considered a solid Wildcat defense. He was arguably the best defensive back on a team that was stacked with probable draft picks the likes of Cornerback Derrick Baity Jr. and Safeties Mike Edwards and Darius West.
Johnson finished off his time in Kentucky by saving what could have been his best game for last. Lonnie was excellent in the Wildcats win over Penn State in the 2019 Citrus Bowl. Johnson picked off Trace McSorley for his lone interception of his Kentucky career. He then went on to receive a Senior Bowl invite and impressed NFL personnel in Mobile. Johnson then participated in the combine and showed the talent evaluators on hand that he had the movement skills to excel at the NFL level. While his size and fluidity are not in question, his ball skills will remain under scrutiny until the end of April.
- Excellent height and build for the cornerback position
- Fluid athlete for a player his size showing a good backpedal and change of direction ability
- Strong tackler who will add some big hitter potential to the secondary
- Solid special teams player with two blocked kicks on his resume (1 FG, 1 Extra Point)
- Has shown some aggression and willingness to throw his body into run support
- Consistency from game to game has come into question, but it is unclear whether it is related to mental processing or just attitude
- Needs to improve his ball skills as he only had one interception during his two seasons with the Wildcats
- Lacks top end recovery speed once a receiver has beaten him
- Should be able to get off of blocks better for a player his size
Let’s See his Work:
Kentucky corner Lonnie Johnson lays the smack-down on Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin. pic.twitter.com/hIpforFbSG— Duane Lively (@DuaneLively) January 26, 2019
How He Would Fit The Redskins
Anyone who watches the combine annually will hear Deion Sanders say at least once, “everybody needs a cornerback”. Given where the league currently sits as a pass happy product, it would be difficult to argue with that assertion. We all know the Redskins could use some more help in their secondary; This includes more talent and depth. As it stands now, Washington’s top corner (at least highest paid) is Josh Norman, who many feel has not produced at a level that is in line with his salary cap number. J-No will turn 32 by the end of the 2019 season and may end up being a cap casualty either this year or next. Looking to this years draft for his eventual replacement may be a wise move.
So while every team is probably interested in at least one corner prospect in this years draft, the real trick lies in finding a guy who fits what your defense is trying to accomplish from a schematic standpoint. It would appear that the Redskins prefer to deploy a cover-3 secondary. As it turns out, this is the exact type of scheme that Johnson exceled in while at Kentucky. So at least on paper it would seem like he could contribute as a rookie (on defense and special teams) and eventually replace Norman. The Redskins almost assuredly will pick up a defensive back in the 2019 draft, but will that prospect be Lonnie Johnson Jr. Stay tuned Skins fans.