2015 Draft Prospect Spotlight: Wake Forrest CB Kevin Johnson

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— Wake Forrest corner-back Kevin Johnson is a name that continues to be mentioned as a strong possibility for the Baltimore Ravens in the first round. He is actually best friends with Michael Campanaro, one of the Ravens 2014 draft picks. Like Campanaro, Johnson is a local product. Both of them are from Clarkesville, Maryland.

Kevin Johnson is a very smooth corner that has elite movement skills. He also has a bit of an edge to him, which is a plus for a somewhat undersized player. Johnson is 6 feet 175 pounds but he isn’t a liability in run defense. You won’t see many “hit stick” kind of tackles when Johnson goes against running backs but he still is able to wrap up and bring the ball carrier down.

Johnson made it a point to add some muscle to his frame and is pleased to have done so without losing speed or flexibility. “I weighed in at 188 pounds. Throughout training, I was at that weight as well. I was carrying that weight and maintaining speed throughout training.” Johnson concluded; “I feel even better now and I am still growing.”

He has cat like quickness and very fluid hips that allow him to stick to receivers in man coverage. His change of direction ability as well as his ball skills is what the scouts like most about him. Johnson has a natural feel for covering receivers and doesn’t overreact when the ball is coming his way. He simply times his jump as he goes up and knocks the ball away.

When watching Johnson at Wake Forrest, it becomes obvious that he can play in any kind of scheme. If you ask Johnson about his press ability, his eyes light up. He described press coverage as one of his better traits when he said; “Press coverage is a great strength for me. I am a longer corner-back; I have size, speed and quickness to change their direction at the point of attack.”

Johnson can also fit into a zone scheme. He is a student of the game and is able to diagnose route combinations. Once he figures out where the offense is trying to go with the ball, he is able to close on the ball very well.

The video below shows how Johnson is able to read the quarterback and make a pretty athletic interception. This game is against Clemson. Johnson is lined up at the top of the screen. Clemson tries to run a rub route to get the two defenders confused. The two defenders do a great job of exchanging receivers and not hindering each other from coverage.

Video

2015 Draft Prospect Spotlight: Wake Forrest CB Kevin Johnson

2015 Draft Prospect Spotlight: Wake Forrest CB Kevin Johnson

He is aware of the possibility that the receiver may run a shorter route and he breaks down just in case that is the case. Johnson shows great patience as he allows the receiver to run to him rather than falling for the head fake. Once the receiver turns up field, Johnson is able to make a baseball turn without losing a step as he runs down-field with the receiver. He reads the quarterback’s eyes, times his jump and breaks up the pass.

Overall, Johnson is one of the best corners in this draft class. He can play press, cover in zone and uses his 41.5 inch vertical to skyrocket into the air to break up passes. Johnson is very good at reducing the space along the sideline that a quarterback likes to drop the deep pass into. He does that by deceptively getting his hands on the receiver down-field. He also leans on the receiver thus guiding him towards the sideline. Those are some of the veteran tricks that make Darrelle Revis such an outstanding corner.

Draft projection: 1st round

Why should the Ravens consider this prospect?

Kevin Johnson is a local product that fits the Ravens need for a corner that can challenge for a starting spot. Johnson is also a very good nickel corner. He is an aggressive player that would fit in nicely with the Ravens because of his press ability.

NFL Comparison: Kyle Fuller

Like Fuller, Johnson has a number of collegiate starts at corner. Both of these players have a mean streak in them that shows up on the field. Ironically, Fuller is a Baltimore area product as well. Fuller was a corner that saw his value go up after the Combine because of how he tested. The same thing can be said for Johnson.

On the field these players are similar in that they love to press. They can redirect receivers at the line with their press technique. Even though they each measure in at six feet tall, they appear to be bigger on film. Many rave about the athleticism that both of these players possess. That athleticism shows up when they need to close on the ball in zone schemes. They can thrive in any scheme.

Fuller is a bit more active in run support but that is something that may change as Johnson continues to gain an NFL body.