Johnson was considered one of the top 100 baseball prospects in the nation as a junior, leading the Tampa, Fla. area in home runs. But "Jay Jay" knew from the get go that football was his future, and so far it’s worked out for the best. Some might have been surprised that Johnson signed with Purdue coming out of Florida, as the team had just one cornerback drafted over the past decade (Jacques Reeves was picked in the seventh round by Dallas in 2004).
In addition to Johnson’s baseball accolades, he also was named first-team All-Sun Coast on offense (32-446, 9 TD receiving, 39-204 rush) as a high school senior. He played 11 games as a true freshman as a reserve and on special teams (four tackles) before taking a starting role for 10 of 12 games played in 2010 (53 tackles, sack, interception, six pass breakups, three forced fumbles). Johnson started all 13 games as a junior, making 64 tackles, 4.5 for loss, two interceptions, and nine pass break-ups. In his senior year, Johnson was named All-Big Ten second-team by the media. He broke up a team high 16 passes, forced three fumbles, and intercepted three passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Confident, competitive cornerback. Good agility and quick feet to mirror receivers’ routes when in man coverage. Aware zone defender, directs teammates on the field on whom to take when receivers cross. Closes to the ball quickly when playing off, good hand-eye coordination to knock away passes as the ball arrives. Baits the quarterback to throw crossers, will cut underneath to knock away the pass. Possesses the vertical and timing to win jump balls against taller receivers. Can beat receiver blocks with quickness or violent hands, also fights through the catch in the end zone. Contains run and quick screens from hitting the sideline, and will drop his hips to wrap and stand up to ballcarriers, riding them out of bounds if not able to bring them down. Goes for the strip during the tackle when possible. Effective cut-tackler in space, as well.
Gives up height and strength against better receivers both off the line and downfield., Does not take advantage of moderate-to-difficult interception opportunities. Gets grabby downfield, will incur holding and pass interference penalties at the next level unless he trusts his quick feet. Overwhelmed by larger receivers outside in the run game, leading him to dance at times instead of taking them on. Struggles to bring down strong ballcarriers.
This ultra-confident and competitive corner is flying under the radar a bit playing for a mediocre Purdue squad without the history of providing NFL talent. Johnson, a high school baseball and football star, has played well over the past few years, and find a niche in a dime cornerback role.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.