Jadar (pronounced juh-DAHR) Johnson was stuck behind veterans like Robert Smith, Jayron Kearse, and T.J. Green as a sophomore and junior, but their departure opened the door for him to excel in the Tigers' national championship run. The in-state product from Orangeburg (appropriate for Clemson garb) garnered first-team All-ACC notice this year, leading the team with five interceptions, making 60 tackles and breaking up seven passes. Even though he wasn't able to start regularly in 2014 or 2015, he was a regular contributor (13 tackles, two TFL, two INT, two PBU in 2014; 15 tackles, two INT in 2015). As one of the top safety prospects in the country, Clemson coaches got him on the field on defense and special teams as a true freshman, as well (12 tackles in 11 games).
Looks like an NFL safety in the uniform. Well defined upper body with broad shoulder and athletic trunk. Explosive athlete with very good ball skills. Good closing burst on the throw. Former AAU hooper who jumps like a dunk championship contestant and times the high point like a rebounder. Instinctive in coverage. Long strider with range to play in the deep middle and the hand-eye coordination to consistently challenge the long throw. Uses a smart approach to challenge catch point ripping at receivers arms. Had just one interference penalty this season despite his aggressive attempts to play the ball (12 passes defensed including five interceptions). Should be an immediate special teams contributor in coverage.
Has just one season of experience as a starter. Can be way too chatty in media sessions providing bulletin board material to opponents. Still needs plenty of work with his run support. Could use more urgency in his pursuit. Makes too many assumptions that teammates will finish the tackle. Needs to use hands aggressively to punch and shuck blocking receivers. Takes poor downhill angles to the football losing his leverage to the sideline. Too many arm tackles lead to high missed tackle count.
Sources Tell Us
"I thought he was the guy who looked most like an NFL player at the Shrine practices. He's big, long, fast and his ball skills and instincts looked good." -- NFC defensive backs coach
Explosive height, weight, speed prospect with terrific ball skills but an inconsistent approach in run support. Johnson's ball production, despite just one season as a starter, will likely give a team confidence that he will continue to shine in that area on the next level. Johnson has starting NFL potential and a strong workout could push him up the draft board. However, he must improve his run support to be a long-time starter in the league.