Johnson A Draft Riser?

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State senior cornerback Dontae Johnson hopes he has improved his draft stock with his recent performances.

NC State senior cornerback Dontae Johnson hopes he has improved his draft stock with his recent performances.

He really impressed with his numbers at the NFL combine. Johnson, who checks in at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, posted a blistering 4.45-second 40-yard dash, one of the top times for defensive backs.

At his size, that certainly turned some heads... but not his own.

"I've always had it," said Johnson. "Honestly, I've been fast as a kid. A lot of people didn't anticipate me running that, but I did. I anticipated running a 4.4 or lower, a low 4.4... it didn't shock me at all.

"Going into it they were expecting me to run a low 4.5 or high 4.5... just to run a 4.45 was great and turned a lot of heads."

Because of his times he only did position drills at NC State's recent Pro Day.

"The positional drills, I think I did a better job than I did at the combine," he stated. "I got a little gassed at the end but that's expected after talking with the scouts. Other than that, I felt my footwork was pretty good."

NC State head coach Dave Doeren believes Johnson has what it takes to contribute on the next level.

"He is a tremendous athlete," Doeren said of Johnson. "A guy that's played nickel, corner, and safety. He understands the game and has a good aptitude."

The question facing Johnson is what position will he play? Is he a big cornerback or will he slide in and play safety in the National Football League?

"He's always a guy that I've felt has had the ability to play outside," said Doeren. "We had to move him to safety due to injury issues.

"I know he can play out there [at cornerback]. More press teams, he's be really good in those systems, not that he can't play off because he can, but with his long arms he's good on the line of scrimmage with people."

Does Johnson have a preference?

"I prefer to play corner at the next level, but if a team needs me to play safety then I'll play safety," he said. "I can also play nickel as well. I just feel like being versatile is going to help me."

His versatility is a big advantage Johnson may have on other defensive backs prospect. Throughout his career at NC State he has lined up all over the defensive backfield... essentially playing all four positions.

"That's going to help me a lot," said Johnson. "Just being able to learn the defenses... playing in multiple positions, I feel like I understand the defense from different positions and it's going to help me learn the defense from the outside and inside. It will help me be able to play faster."

Johnson is being represented by agents Jared Fox and Alan Herman of Sportstars which is based out of New York. Other clients of Sportstars include current NFL stars Owen Daniels, Tamba Hali, D'Qwell Jackson, and Alfred Morris.

What is the best advice Johnson has received from his agents?

"Just be myself," he said. "I'm a high character guy from all the feedback they've been receiving... just be myself and everything else will follow."

Several former Wolfpack players supported Johnson at Pro Day and he's lined up alongside current NFL players Earl Wolff and David Amerson. According to Johnson, they gave him very similar advice.

"I played with those guys," he said. "They know who I am and they know I can play. They just told me to do what I've been doing. I've been training for this moment... enjoy the moment and perform when the lights are on."


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