Johnny Johnson CB (5’10” 175 – Central East High School, Fresno, CA)
Scout.com: 4-Star, #5 CB
Rivals.com: 4-Star, #17 CB, #21 overall in CA
ESPN.com: 4-Star (83), #19 CB
Consensus four-start cornerback Johnny Johnson Jr. , the highest-rated defensive back currently on the Cardinal’s board, shows the speed, athleticism, quickness and attitude typical of top-end corner prospects. He has the “long speed” to run with any receiver and possesses the acceleration to make up ground quickly if a receiver does end up gaining a step or two on him. Often, when a receiver does gain a step, it is the result of Johnson’s baiting the quarterback rather than a skill advantage on the receiver’s part. Johnson has a good plant and drive when he plays off coverage, and is able to wheel his hips around and accelerate to the ball at times when he may be caught turning in the wrong direction. The ability to make up for those very small, inevitable physical errors is one attribute that sets Johnson apart from the average BCS-level cornerback prospect.
However, Johnson is most effective when lining up in press coverage. Despite his size, Johnson is a very physical player at the line of scrimmage. He does a great job of re-routing receivers as he shows good power and relentlessness in his bump technique. However, the most impressive part of his game is his footwork when lining up in press coverage. He is able to stay square to the receiver and quickly shuffle to maintain proper positioning once the receiver starts making moves off of the line. That leads to the receiver being re-routed with Johnson’s hands if the receiver stays close, or the receiver being re-routed by his own movement in his attempt to avoid contact. Once the receiver declares, Johnson is able to quickly flip his hips and run stride for stride down the field on vertical routes.
While not a pure striker when tackling, Johnson shows no fear when taking on blocks or coming up to the line in run support. That he is able to close ground very quickly will be of great benefit in that he will be able to funnel faster ball carriers into the heart of the defense.
Johnson’s speed an overall athleticism show up in his offensive highlights as well. At wide receiver, he blows by defenders on deep passes and appears to have very good hands. Though his playing style and skills are almost too good to pass up at cornerback, he could be a very good wide receiver on the next level if team needs called for a position switch.
Finally, Johnson looks to have the ideal mindset for a big-time cornerback. Even before his junior season, he had no qualms about physically challenging bigger and older receivers in camps. Despite an age and size disadvantage, Johnson came out on top more often than not. If he were to choose Stanford, Johnson would be a great addition skill-wise and through his intangibles, and he would be likely figure into the team’s defensive plans very early in his career. Recent Scout.com reports indicate a battle between frontrunners Stanford and UCLA.
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