BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday night in Cleveland, with the first round taking place. All the war rooms are ready, and the draft experts have all spoken.
The first Indiana player expected to hear his name called is safety Jamar Johnson. It won't be Thursday, but it could happen on Friday during the second and third rounds. The fourth-through-seventh rounds are on Saturday.
Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound safety from Sarasota, Fla., spent three successful seasons at Indiana, and he's the fifth-ranked safety in the draft, according to ESPN's Todd McShay.
Here's how he ranks the top-10 safeties:
- Trevon Moehrig, Texas Christian
- Andre Cisco, Syracuse
- Richie Grant, Central Florida
- Jevon Holland, Oregon
- Jamar Johnson, Indiana
- Richard LeCounte, Georgia
- Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State
- Damar Hamlin, Pitt
- Trill Williams, Syracuse
- Caden Sterns, Texas
Johnson is proud of the success he had at Indiana, both individually and as a team, and he feels like he's ready for the next level. He's played multiple positions at Indiana and he feels like that versatility will help him stick.
"It will help me tremendously at the next level," Johnson said. "Not many guys in this year's draft are able to do that. My man coverage is pretty good. I can go in the slot and cover fast short guys. My range back at free safety gives me leverage so I can attack the ball and get the ball back to the offense."
Johnson was part of more than two dozen players from Florida who bought in to Tom Allen's programs and wanted to turn it around. They've done that. Indiana is 14-5 in the regular season the past two years.
"I was up for the challenge of changing the culture," he said. "People didn't want me to come here. They'd say, 'Hey man, you had better offers. You should have gone somewhere else.' But I wanted to be here. "I came here at 18 thinking I knew everything. I had a lot of maturing to do.
"LEO is very important to me. Where I come from, we don't get much love. It's survival mode. Here everybody loves each other. That was a big part of our success. We see it from Coach Allen. Because of him and LEO, the success will keep building."