Stay Woke on Lonnie Johnson
I believe we offensive minded people have seen the Kyler Murray/DK Metcalf “dog and pony”, top five WR/QB crap plenty this offseason. I wish both gentlemen the best of luck wherever they are drafted come Thursday. Now that the niceties are out the way and you all have your fix because I said highly coveted names, we can move over to the defense.
There aren’t many pundits out there putting in a good word for this year’s defenders on the outside. I want to counter that. There is one particular prototypical CB in the draft that I believe could have his own “island” soon. He is day one ready for some lucky franchise not star-struck by the combine monitors in the media.
I’ll go ahead an burst your bubble and let you know I‘m not talking about the bone-crushing opportunist who some call the top CB in the draft (Byron Murphy). I’m referring to Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson.
There are attributes scouts look for when looking at DB’s; certain things they search for on the tape. Size, speed, agility, vision, accountability, and toughness are all great attributes of a DB. Johnson shows glimpses of all of these according to the tape.
Size is something you just can’t teach. Sure there are smaller DBs in the league like Tavon Young who never let that get them down and still ball out. However, when you have big guys like Julio Jones or Mike Evans standing in front of your defense, you had better have a nice sized defender there to match, or it will be a long day. Johnson tapes in at 6-2, 206. Yes, the guy is going to have to take a few more trips to the buffet line at Golden Corral but so do a lot of prospects coming out of college. Grade: A
Here is another element that can is rare. DBs have to keep up with the DeSean Jacksons and freaks named Tyreek at the next level. A Corner will be worth their weight in gold if they can cover a burner. When looking at the DB class of 2019, Johnson ran a respectable 40-time clocking in at 4.52. While the time is not the fastest, the former Wildcat will be able to avoid huge separation between him and his opponent. B-
The Gary Indiana Native is not as slow as Metcalf on the 3-cone, but he could be faster. Johnson clocked a 7.01 on the drill. Faster DBs in his class clocked in at an average of 6.94. Johnson has a 38-inch vertical, so that is a plus. I am not a believer in strictly combine stats; I refer back to the tape because the tape does not lie. There are only two other corners in this draft that shadow players like this Westside Leadership Academy Alumni; Greedy Williams and Byron Murphy. Grade: B+
Corners share a great deal of the responsibility when first downs and touchdowns occur on the gridiron. Knowing and owning your responsibility in coverage is essential to a team’s success. Very few know how to switch from man-to-man coverage to zone at the drop of a hat. Can this rookie make the transition? What I do see if a lot pass breakups, shadowing, and a great deal of flying to the ball to wrap up with the tackles. I am giving this guy a pass in this area. Grade: B
Of course in the ideal world, the tape would reveal plenty of plays showing Johnson playing press and deliberately running downhill to deliver punishing blows to opposing offenses. Actually, the tape does show the man playing press coverage, but it does not show much resistance. As a DB, you want to usher the WR to the bench at the snap and disrupt the timing of the route. I see some resistance but the majority of the time Johnson is getting beat on the line. Sure the closing speed is there once the ball is in the air but what I am not seeing is the physicality up front and against the run. Sorry Bro, I have to drop you here.
Overall, I see a player who could make anyone’s team better. There is still development needed at the NFL level but this former Kentucky player could be a beast in this league within a year.
Comparison: Pierre Desir