Top Cornerbacks in NFL Draft: Jaylon Johnson

Bill Huber

Utah’s Jaylon Johnson is the No. 3 cornerback in the 2020 NFL Draft.

At a whisker shorter than 6 feet, Utah’s Jaylon Johnson has size. With 4.50 speed in the 40 and a 36.5-inch vertical, he’s got athleticism. With six interceptions the past two seasons, he’s got ball skills. Having received scholarship offers to play basketball in the Ivy League and earned a degree in economics, he’s got intelligence.

What Johnson also has is what all the great corners possess: confidence.

“Confidence, swagger, toughness, you name it,” Johnson said when asked about his fondness for press-man coverage. “It’s just about having kind of that dog mentality and having that will to win, and just always wanting to compete and get better and kind of just impose your will on the receiver.”

Johnson had a career-high four interceptions as a sophomore and a career-high 13 passes defensed (two interceptions, 11 breakups) as a junior. He would have had a bigger season if not for three dropped interceptions. He was second-team All-American in 2019 and first-team all-conference his final two seasons. His three-season total was seven interceptions.

“For me, it was just big to have ball production, whether it’s PBUs, whether it’s interceptions,” Johnson said. “To me, I feel like you can be in good position, you can have good coverage, and you still get a ball caught on you. So, just being able to finish plays was very important to me coming into college and really focusing on stopping receivers from catching the ball as much as possible. I’m not too sure of other guys’ ball production. I just knew that was something I emphasized.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, he allowed a 42 percent completion rate and one touchdown, good for a passer rating of just 49.8.

“If you’re not getting beat, then I feel you’re not taking chances or you’re not really playing football,” he said. “So, for me, it’s just about playing football, taking chances and making plays. And if I get beat, I get beat. I’ll forget about it, but I know I’m do some winning more than I’m going to lose some reps.”

What we like

According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed just six completions on 31 targets thrown 10-plus yards downfield. Some of that is his physical skill, obviously, but part of that is also his film study. That’s something the Utes’ coaches pointed out last season as he became a complete player. Moreover, he’s arguably the top tackler of the class and isn’t afraid to play run defense. He missed just two for a missed-tackle rate of 6 percent.

What we don’t like

By far the biggest issue is his troubling history of labrum problems; he had a third surgery after the Scouting Combine, which would have kept him out of the offseason practices. Johnson sometimes goes overboard with the physicality, meaning too many penalties. 

Bill Huber’s Cornerback Profiles

No. 1: Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah

No. 2: Alabama’s Trevon Diggs

No. 3: Utah’s Jaylon Johnson

No. 4: Florida’s C.J. Henderson

No. 5: LSU’s Kristian Fulton

Nos. 6-20: Best of the Rest

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