DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 11: Alex Fontenot #8 of the Colorado Buffaloes makes a run while being defended by Antonio Johnson #27 of the Texas A&M Aggies during the second quarter at Empower Field At Mile High on September 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 11: Alex Fontenot #8 of the Colorado Buffaloes makes a run while being defended by Antonio Johnson #27 of the Texas A&M Aggies during the second quarter at Empower Field At Mile High on September 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Antonio Johnson is Not An NFL Safety According to Former Scout

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Texas A&M defensive back Antonio Johnson is a good oversized nickel back, but that is not enough to go in the first three rounds of the upcoming draft.

He is not a safety. I repeat, he is not a safety.

Johnson did not even line up in the traditional safety spot in this three-game study. He was lined up down in the box and he lined up in coverage against the slot receiver.

Not only did he not line up at safety, but he did not show the needed characteristics to play the position successfully.

Johnson is not aggressive

He does not play the game with a strong want.

There were too many times to count when he was handled by receivers easily.

He was tentative and reluctant on running plays and in support.

Even on blitz attempts, he looked hesitant.

Johnson was downright passive (going half speed) on some active plays and that did not sit well with me.

Johnson lacks the ability to adjust to the play flow

He runs his assignments true to form, and that’s it.

That is a positive and a negative.

There are many examples in these three games when he stayed with his assignment, even when it was apparent the ball was going somewhere else.

It appeared he had a hard time reading, recognizing, and adjusting to the actual game flow of what was happening on the field.

He looked lost and he was slow to react at times.

Johnson lacks instincts.

There was a play against Arkansas when the quarterback tossed it out to the receiver, and then the receiver threw it and he got sucked right up as the ball sailed over his head.

Not a sure tackler

One of the top requirements to play safety is being a solid tackler, and Johnson doesn’t even have that going for him.

Safety is the last line of defense and teams need sure tackling in this role.

Johnson is a hit-and-miss hitter. He flat-out missed sometimes in the open field and his “hits” were not enough to always get the job done.

Beware of his pre-draft workouts

Johnson has the raw athletic skill set to look great in his pre-draft events.

He has good size and he can run.

Outside of that – – his skill set does not translate on game film.

This is one of those players to watch out for.

Is Johnson good at anything?

He is good at covering slot receivers.

Johnson carried routes underneath and vertically.

He lacked a short-area burst, so he will never be a starting corner in the NFL.

However, he did consistently showed he could stay pretty tight in man coverage. At times, he even showed he could out-physical receivers and cause an incompletion.

His best value is as a nickel back – – who is not a team player – – and nothing more.

#27 Antonio Johnson 6-foot-3, 195 pounds

Daniel Kelly’s Grade: Fourth-Round – Early Fall 2022 Report

First-Round Mock Big Board: TBD

Projected by 50.5% of the NFL Draft Community to be a first-round pick as of October 17, 2022 (nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

2021 game film reviewed: Arkansas, Alabama and LSU (click to watch games viewed to form this evaluation)

Level of competition: High

2021 stats: 79 tackles (53 solo, 26 assists), 5 passes defended, 1 INT, 1 sack

2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Raw athletic defensive back who can run, but lacks aggression, instincts and is a below-average tackler. Lined up against the slot and down low in the box. Best in man coverage, but lacks short area burst. Has the athletic ability to adjust to double-move routes. Reluctant to provide help. Excels carrying assignments as drawn up, but was tentative outside of that. Best unblocked in run support. More often, ended up by the pile. Not a sure wrapping form tackler. Sometimes slow reacting to runs or just becomes outright passive. At times continues to carry pass coverage on developing running plays and doesn’t even attempt to get into position. Will not move the meter.

What to watch for during the 2022 college football season:

  1. Does he line up at safety?
  2. Is he reluctant and tentative looking in support?
  3. Does he look aware of play flow?
  4. Does he wrap up and tackle?

I walked away unimpressed.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated New York Jets and he is the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock.

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