40: 4.58 (Campus)
PROS: Likes to hit receivers over the middle acting a bit like an enforcer. Does a nice job wrapping up the ballcarrier. Works well in shorter zones and does a good job keeping things in front of him. Has decent range and ball skills to break up the pass over the middle or to make the pick on the sideline on an errant throw. Shows decent hips and burst and should be able to match up with tight ends on the next level in man coverage.
CONS: Not great in run support at the point of attack and has a tendency to tackle high, not always breaking down. Not the quickest to come up and defend the run. Can get caught out of position vs. the run because he doesn't always show ideal awareness and instincts in that realm. Lacks ideal range to make plays when working in deeper zones and centerfield.
OVERVIEW: Johnson is a better cover safety than run defender, but is capable in both areas. BUt he's not as fast or rangy to be a top cover guy at the next level. Started three years at free safety with his best season coming as a senior where he had career highs with 70 tackles, 4 for loss, and 6 picks.
NFL FORECAST: Johnson reminds me a bit of Thomas DeCoud, although probably a more polished pass defender than DeCoud was coming out of Cal, and not quite as good in run support. He operated mainly in the Cover-2 at Utah, and I think is good enough that he could come in right away and be a competent starter there. He can be a starter in the NFL, although he's not going to be a top starter. But if he can improve his film study, I'm sure he's capable enough to be a starter on a similar level to what DeCoud was this past year or what Erik Coleman has been in the league. He just lacks the upside and physical tools to really be a star. The area I worry about a bit is him in run support. He's probably too tall for his own good, and doesn't have that closing burst and strength you like to see to consistently make stops in the open field. I think he can get better there, but if he does wind up becoming a starter and considered a liability because he misses too many tackles, I wouldn't be surprised. But at the very least, he should be a good backup free safety that I think can develop into a competent above average starter.
ATL FORECAST: Johnson isn't an upgrade over DeCoud because I don't think he has his range or speed, and would be a downgrade in run support. BUt he is good enough to land a roster spot as a reserve and potentially push Coleman off the roster, particularly if Moore takes well to strong safety in the next year or two. He would be a nice backup to DeCoud, although I'm not sure he would get enough opportunities on defense over the next four years to merit a long-term extension, not unless he developed into a rock-solid special teams guy. But he could probably go to another team and compete for and win a starting job. But he woudl be a good candidate to be the team's top backup safety.
VALUE: He's a good fit as a fourth or fifth round safety because of his potential to start, but not any earlier because he's unlikely to be a top safety.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
BALL SKILLS: 3.0
Scouting reports of safeties in the 2010 draft.
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