Cardinals Show Interest in SEC Safety

The Arizona Cardinals are stable in their last line of defense but could look for fresh blood at the position during this weekend's draft. Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle proved to be a formidable tandem but a youthful addition to the secondary won't be overlooked. Brad Wilbricht caught up with an SEC standout and discussed his past, future and what's allowed him to get to where he's at today.

Alabama safety Rashad Johnson knows a thing or two about hard work. Coming into the Crimson Tide football program as a walk-on running back, Johnson managed to shift gears in an effort to help the team wherever he could. Now he's looking to do the same thing as he prepares for life in the NFL.

After his transition to the defensive side of the ball, Johnson landed in the Alabama secondary and developed into one of the most productive safeties in the SEC. During his last two campaigns in Tuscaloosa, Johnson racked up 176 tackles along with 11 interceptions. He was named First-Team All-SEC in both seasons and was also chosen as a team captain.

Johnson (5'11", 203 pounds) possesses adequate size and speed for a safety at the NFL level. He displays an uncanny ability to read opposing quarterbacks and has tremendous ball skills when battling receivers. Johnson's 40-yard dash time isn't an accurate assessment of his true football speed. Furthermore, his aggressive style and ability to contribute on special teams would bode well in Arizona.

When asked how he managed to become one of the top safety prospects in the draft, Johnson emphasized his work ethic and the people around him.

"Hard work and setting goals allowed me to get where I am today. I've been able to stick to those goals thanks to the people around me, especially my family," Johnson said.


Rashad Johnson
(Getty)

In addition to his hard work, Johnson benefited from playing under former NFL head coach Nick Saban. Johnson explained Saban's influence upon his arrival at Alabama and described how it's helped prepare him for the professional ranks.

"(Learning under Saban) has definitely been a plus. When he came in, his schemes and systems were so complex. Listening to the coaches and learning have prepared me for the next level."

During Johnson's time at Alabama, he was exposed to several different coverage packages, which will supply his future NFL employer with a great deal of versatility in the secondary. Johnson sees himself as a player who can fit any scheme and isn't limited to certain systems.

"I'm a guy who can do pretty much anything. We played several different coverage schemes at Alabama – Cover 1, Cover 2, Cover 3, Quarters," explained Johnson.

Most draft prospects describe the process as something unlike anything they've ever experienced. Even after playing for one of the most prestigious college programs in the nation, Johnson still wasn't sure what to expect following the conclusion of his collegiate career.

"There have been no surprises, but it's a process you can't really prepare for. I'm excited and nervous at the same time but just looking forward to this weekend."

Johnson got to know the Arizona Cardinals at the Combine and remarked on how well those meetings went. He's been hearing from numerous teams including the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears among a host of others.

Thanks to Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle, the Cardinals' starters are set at safety. However, they could attempt to acquire depth during the draft if the right prospect is available. Johnson currently grades out as a second-round pick but could be there for the taking early on Day 2. If that scenario pans out, look for Johnson to garner strong consideration from GM Rod Graves and the Arizona front office.


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