Prospect: Jaylen Johnson
Status: SI All-American Candidate
Vitals: 6-foot-1, 200 pounds
School: Cincinnati (Ohio) La Salle
Committed to: Ohio State
Projected Position: Safety
Frame: Athletic frame with solid arm length and good torso. Sturdy midsection and above-average bubble and thighs for his position.
Athleticism: Good movement skills on the backend and in space. Eyes stay in sync with feet and hips to allow lower base fluidity and quickness. Triggers well downhill from the depth and works with good transition quickness to get off hashes and redirect. Good to plant and drive to underneath routes. Very good closing quickness on ball-carriers. Arrives at collision points with some thump and obtains a good fit and wrap when tackling.
Instincts: Plays with good understanding, eyes and feel for zone coverage concepts. Instinctive and aware versus run and pass. Alert in coverage and attempts to mid-point routes when he’s in conflict. Has enough play speed, hip fluidity and coverage feel to play man concepts on TE’s and RB’s. Reliable to play C-gap vs run when in box and possesses very good ball-location skills.
Polish: Good on-field communicator with the versatility to align to the field and in the boundary. Current defense plays various concepts of Cover-1 through 4 and has somewhat of a box technique versus trips at times. Plays some LB in sub and man coverage in goal line. Stops his feet in his pedal when on the hashes. Can improve his closing angles to the ball when coming out of classic transition. Declares a tad early on 2nd and 3rd-level pressures.
Bottom Line: Johnson has a good skill set and already plays in a defensive structure that calls for a variety of coverage concepts and versatility. He’s asked to do different things, but his athleticism, instincts, awareness and competitiveness allow him to factor at a high clip. Johnson fits best as either a split safety to the field with the potential to move down in sub-packages or potentially as a Sam linebacker in today’s game.