Friday, March 06, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #35 - Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson answers a question during a news conference at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football kickoff in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson answers a question during a news conference at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football kickoff in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest - 6'0, 188 - RS Senior
As we continue to roll through the corners, we come to the rare NFL prospect from Wake Forest and find the very impressive Kevin Johnson.  Johnson turned plenty of heads at the combine with testing that was near the top of his class in all sorts of measure-ables.  That and his ideal size for "today's corners" put him at the top of many lists, but of course, in our exercises, we are quite concerned with how well his football playing ability shines.  To investigate, we looked at Clemson, Florida State, and Syracuse to find enough of his college football performance to see what all the talk is about.
What I liked:  First and foremost, this is a very strong cover corner who is a big believer in his own ability and has a fantastic grasp for knowing the game and awareness over what is being done by the offense.  You can often see him running the defensive backfield from the corner spot which is a bit uncommon.  He sees the ball and reacts as he played in plenty of zones where he can focus and keep his eyes on the backfield, whereas your man corners often have their backs turned.  He plants his foot and drives forward with conviction and explosion to make a break on the ball or to attack a WR screen with the attitude that you are really looking for.  I have heard his run support criticized, but to be honest, in the games I have watched, I was satisfied with his desire to be a physical force and to not play off, soft, and passive at corner which you often see with zone guys.  He seems capable in man and often runs hip to hip with the receiver with his athletic skills.  He loves attacking north and also is able to find the ball in the air and make a play.  He is beyond confident and occasionally has to be reeled in, but emotionally, know that he is ready to rumble.  He also likes to hit.  Sometimes, his judgement is not great as he can certainly border on "targeting" (see below), but he is not allowing you to run across without retribution.

What I did not like:  Maybe the biggest issue is that he might be over-aggressive going forward.  This means that if there is a double-move, he might bite.  if there is a fake underneath, he might bite.  Not all of the time, but he will have to be coached to not peek too much into the backfield and to understand at the NFL level, they will try to use his aggressiveness against him.  You want to stay disciplined and only gamble when it is the proper time.  He also gets "grabby" with the receiver and overly-physical which means he might have to be weened off of that habit, lest he becomes a target for officials.  But, these are two things you might expect of a rookie in the NFL and surely something that would not chase me off of this pick.
Summary:  This player is high on my board as a guy who I feel great about.  He has the mentality and the makeup that I look for in a corner, and unlike Peters from Washington, he is far more ready to attack the line of scrimmage and is a team defender which make his abilities far more useful to me.  I am confident that this player has the skill-set that is required to deal with the challenges that are ahead and he has all the attributes you are looking for in a 1st round corner.  He also looks able to contribute on special teams and provide depth.  If you are Dallas and in need for a scheme fit with tremendous upside and looks to be a real value, I believe this player would be pretty high on the list if he falls to #27.  Easily, my 2nd favorite corner to this point of the study.

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