FS DONTAE JOHNSON, NORTH CAROLINA ST.

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6’2” – 195 lbs. – 4.60e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 22 – 0.0 – 0.0, 1 PD, 1 BK
2011: 27 – 3.0 – 3.0, 4 PD
2012: 70 – 6.0 – 1.0, 2 QBH, 1 FF, 8 PD

OVERVIEW:

Served as a backup safety in 2010, appearing in all but one game, starting one. Lined up in the nickel in 2011 (technically linebacker/safety), playing every game, with two starts. Shifted to cornerback in 2012, lining up in the slot in nickel packages. Played left cornerback in 2013.

POSITIVES:

•    Was basically a two-year starter, but had an extensive role in sub packages previously.
•    Most recently played cornerback, but also has experience in the slot and at safety.
•    Possesses outstanding height and length for a pro defensive back, corner or safety.
•    Has been asked to line up in both man and zone coverages during his time at corner.
•    Confident player who has a swagger which is especially desirable in defensive backs.
•    Does a nice job of looking back and locating in the football when targeted on passes.
•    Exhibits good timing when it comes to getting a hand on the ball when he’s targeted.
•    Height, length, and leaping ability allow him to match up vertically against tall receivers.
•    Big, strong, and active enough to work through blocks vs. the run or on screens.
•    Adequate wrap-up tackler who also explodes into ballcarriers with some pop at times.
•    Fairly accomplished pass rusher who was effective while working from inside the slot.

NEGATIVES:

•    Looks like he may be able to fit at corner or safety but lacks a definitive position.
•    Overall timed speed is adequate given his size but may be exploited at the next level.
•    May be a little bit too big to cover some of the NFL’s smaller, quicker slot receivers.
•    Probably better suited to a zone-coverage scheme should teams decide he’s a corner.
•    Looks okay when he turns and runs downfield but his initial backpedal is sloppy.
•    Doesn’t have great hands, drops picks at times; only intercepted passes as a senior.

SUMMARY:

Johnson has flown under the radar a bit, possibly because of his lack of outstanding statistical production, but, having earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl, he has a good opportunity to work his way up draft boards. At 6’2” and 195, he has the size of a safety, but actually covers well at cornerback, where he’s capable of playing either man or zone, matching up against big receivers vertically, and getting his hands on passes from time to time. His run defense skills are above-average as well, both in terms of shedding blocks and tackling. There aren’t many 6’2” cornerbacks, but he looks like someone who could probably transition to safety. A versatile developmental defensive back with attractive size, versatility, and mental tools.

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