With Will Johnson a “jack of all trades/master at none,” it will be up to some special teams coach to decide what avenue in the kicking game Johnson will ride down in the NFL. No matter what the decision – punter or placekicker – it is certain that he will get his “foot in the door” thanks to his excellent kickoff skills. One things NFL coaches crave is a kicker who sails his kicks into the end zone and on 227 attempts, he’s recorded 121 touchbacks (53.31%), including on 64.79% as a senior (46-of-71) and 67.86% as a junior (38-of-56).
To say that Johnson is an outstanding kickoff artist who consistently kicks to the goal line with impressive hang time (4.78-5.01 second average with an 8x4 alignment) is an under-statement. He takes a 3x3 approach in his field goal attempts, getting good elevation and quickness to the kick (1.23-1.3 second average). He demonstrates the proper leg swipe and swing, getting good explosion on contact and has solid directional type quickness and shows good ball control on kickoffs.
While Johnson has not done it often in Texas, he is capable of kicking in poor weather conditions, adjusting to handle the elements and has the leg strength to kick into the wind. He hits the ball squarely and is consistent in his approach and rhythm. He shows accuracy on his punt attempts, with the ability to control and place the ball. He has soft hands (natural hands catcher) with the agility and flexibility to field the off-target snaps with ease.
Johnson is a two-step punter who quickly adjusts to pressure, showing great coordination and the ability to improvise. He has good mechanics and knows how to angle his punts towards the sidelines to take away the field for the returner. He consistently turns his punts over, getting good rise and trajectory behind his attempts.
Johnson can give return men fits because of the unusual spin on the ball. As a punter, he demonstrates above-average leg strength. He sells out to tackle return men, although he doesn't have to do it that often. One thing that is constant with the Bobcat is his ability to get the ball to bounce straight up or softly inside the 10-yard line (49 downed inside the red zone). .He also demonstrates great directional skills and hang time. He gets the ball off quickly and has never had a punt attempt blocked.
His hands seem to be above average, as Johnson fields the ball cleanly and will elevate well to pull in the high snap. He knows when to angle his punts or shoot them down the middle of the field when going for distance. He is good in terms of his get-off (1.23-1.26 catch-to-kick average) and shows no wasted movement, which allows him to get those punts off fast.
Johnson has above average control on his punts, in terms of accuracy and placement. He’s the type that responds well to pressure situations and while never used at Texas State in this capacity, he did show during his prep days that he has the ability to tuck and run with the ball on fakes. As a tackler, he’s the type that will “grab cloth” and compete to get returners to the ground, if needed.
Will Johnson Scouting Combine measurables
31 ½-inch arm length
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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