The Hurricanes resurgence onto the National scene was due to rejuvenating a defense that thrived on turnovers and splash plays. Their team captain and one of their top players on that unit was safety Jaquan Johnson who often times set the tone. Here look at three things you need to know about Johnson as he enters his senior season leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft.
Three Things to Know about Jaquan Johnson
1. Defending the Run
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) June 26, 2018
Johnson’s strong suit is coming up and defending the run. Several times we see safeties fly up out of control trying to throw their body at the ball carrier to lay a bit hit. Johnson is not one of those players. While he’ll come up strong to help in run support he’s always under control which allows him to make a hit, wrap up and drive the ball carrier to the ground. A big part of why he is so successful is he’s able to diagnose the run quickly and get to a position to make the play. His 85 tackles in 2017 were tied for the team lead.
2. He’s going to Hit you
Something that stood out when watching Johnson is he tends to play the body of the receiver in coverage rather than playing the ball in the air. This is fine because Johnson can jar the ball loose with hits, but in the NFL that will only take you so far. The best safeties in the NFL play the ball because it’s more efficient and easier to break up passes than hits to the body. Also when you play the body of the receiver your chances of drawing a targeting call are much more significant. In the run game Johnson does well to deliver big hits to the ball carrier, but what makes him different is he makes that big hit and then wraps up driving the ball carrier to the ground.
3. He’s a Strong Safety
Watching Johnson’s traits it is clear he’s going to be a strong safety in the NFL. Johnson is at his best coming forward wither it’s in the the run game flying up to make plays at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield. In coverage Johnson shows that he can match up to tight ends or some receivers in the slot and even sticking with them on multiple cuts. He tends to play two high quite a bit and can cover half of the field. However he lacks good range that would be needed to play single high safety or play a lot of deep coverage. This isn’t a bad thing as long as he’s in a defense that utilizes his strengths.