Superstar defensive tackle Ed Oliver garnered most of the media attention at Houston last season, but savvy scouts were just as interested in the development of Johnson, a Kong-sized cornerback (6-4, 203) who originally signed with the Cougars as a wide receiver.
An accomplished track star and receiver in high school, Johnson caught 21 passes for 208 yards over his first two seasons at Houston before being convinced that his best chance at making an NFL roster would be at cornerback.
He made the switch to defense before his junior season and earned immediate playing time in 2017, starting the final five games of the year. Johnson registered 45 tackles in 2017 with seven passes broken up and two interceptions.
Despite rarely being targeted by opponents in the passing game, Johnson's tackles jumped in 2018 to 66 stops, including two for loss, as he showed more of a defensive mentality. He snared another two interceptions to go with five passes broken up, earning an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
Among the more imposing cornerbacks in the 2019 draft, hulking over receivers with a massive frame complete with very broad shoulders and vines for arms. Shows surprising flexibility when changing directions as well as impressive build-up speed.
At his best in press coverage, using his size to simply smother wideouts at the line of scrimmage, ruining timing with their quarterbacks. Improved route-recognition, physicality and overall reliability in run support as a senior, suggesting his best football may still lie ahead of him.
While Johnson offers intriguing upside in the right scheme, make no mistake, he is very much a project currently reliant upon his size and speed in coverage. Needs to clean up his hand placement and footwork technique in press. Frenetic footwork at the mesh point, which too often leaves him off-balance, especially against quicker receivers.
While imposing in size, Johnson does not consistently play to his bulk, resorting to drag-down tackles rather than explosive collisions.
Projection: Fourth Round
--Field Level Media