Football 101: Kevin Johnson's fit

5', 96 lb. as a HS freshman.

Two star recruit.

Wake Forest.

Sat out 2011 season due to eligibility issues.

No. 16 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

It's easy to think we all travel incredible paths to get to where we are, but newly minted Texan Kevin Johnson seems to epitomize that and then some.

Let's be honest, not many of us watched Wake Forest football and I'll admit, I didn't watch many full Wake Forest games the past few years. But, I knew all about him, especially with family in the North Carolina area, and was a bit dismayed that I didn't get to see him get after it in Mobile.

No matter, he still found his way to Houston anyway. What did the Texans get with the former Demon Deacon? Glad you asked.

Here's my scouting report on him from prior to the Draft.

Combine Update: Freakish athletically, that's for sure...4.52 in the 40, 41.5" vertical, 10'10" broad jump...his quickness, COD were amazing - 6.79 3-cone and 3.89 SS...wow!...as I mentioned his feet - they stand out.

Report: Whoowee, he's got some quick feet…his backpedal is blazingly fast…long arms and very confident…break on the ball is outstanding…seven passes defensed in 2014…closes on the ball in a hiccup…not always willing to come up and make tackles

Projection: Surprise candidate for the first round to most, as not many saw him play last year at Wake Forest. But, he's a legit player with unreal feet, speed and athleticism. He's highly moldable clay, to say the least.


The very first thing that stood out was how quick his feet are. Very first snap I watched studying him, I wrote down exactly what I said "Whoooo, he's got some FEET." I meant quick feet but you knew that. I've learned to watch players at the same position back-to-back-to-back so I can make comparisons and rank by position more effectively. No one I watched had the feet he did. So, how does that result in play on the field?

Good question.

Last year, the Deacs played Clemson in Winston-Salem on a Thursday night. This was the perfect example of how Johnson's full package comes together.

Johnson aligned in off coverage into the boundary on a 1st and 15 play.

Notice the distance "off" he is - he's eight yards from the Clemson WR at the snap.

As soon as Clemson QB Cole Stoudt took the snap, he eyed the No. 1 WR to Johnson's side.

In this picture, Stoudt is a split second from throwing the now screen to the Clemson WR. Johnson still is about seven or eight yards from the WR.

But, then…

From the time that it took Stoudt to make an accurate throw to the sideline, Johnson, in a blur, burst forward from his original off position and made contact with the WR…

TWO YARDS BEHIND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE.

He covered nearly ten yards in a hiccup.

The result?

A two yard loss and a tackle for a loss (TFL). For a cornerback, or any defensive back, a TFL is nearly unheard of on a screen of any type, especially when a corner is in off coverage.

His change of direction drills at the combine were a sure sign of just this, but seeing it come together on the field is the key.

Okay, but what about tracking deep routes and other routes? Well, I mentioned this on draft night to Marc Vandermeer and Seth Payne, he's as good mirroring and matching wide receiver cuts as any defensive back I saw. Most importantly, he did this without clutching and grabbing. That one skill may help young cornerbacks move to the top of the list as defensive backs are consistently under the watch of NFL referees that have placed an emphasis on stopping holding, illegal contact and the like.

He can high point the football on deep routes, case in point the picture below as he intercepted this pass on a deep post route, one of the most difficult for a corner to track and cover down the field.

Don't expect Johnson to lead the league in tackles or be the best run support corner in this draft, even though he had one of the best legal hits I saw in 2014 against Florida State. That's not his game. He covers. He breaks on the ball. He battles receivers. He competes. In the NFL, it's a must, especially in this division with the Colts passing game firepower, 2015 No. 2 overall selection Marcus Mariota and 2014 No. 3 overall selection Blake Bortles all in the AFC South.

From his days as a 96 pound 9th grader to covering Andre Johnson and T.Y Hilton on a Thursday night, it's an impressive story. But, the NFL chapter is just beginning for the newest Texan Kevin Johnson.

Meet CB Kevin Johnson, the newest member of the Houston Texans.

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