The Los Angeles Rams have unearthed a few gems in the lower rounds in recent NFL Drafts. While scouting for the first rounds are important, general manager Les Snead will need to consider Day 2 prospects also, particularly at cornerback. One option may be Weber State’s Taron Johnson.
On film, Johnson is a well-rounded cornerback. He has a nose for the football and isn’t afraid to be physical. Johnson is a tackling machine, who aims for the legs to secure the tackle. He makes the opposition pay as a hard-hitter if they underestimate him. The young cornerback possesses solid coverage skills. Johnson tends to stick with receivers with no room to breathe. He also has a great work ethic. Johnson is a relentless defender and leader. These are all qualities that are difficult to find in any prospect.
There is no doubt about it: Johnson was an impact player for the Wildcats. He made his presence felt on the field and ended up with 49 tackles, nine pass deflections and three interceptions during in his senior season. Despite coming from a small school, he was intriguing enough to receive an invite to the Senior Bowl. If he performs well at the NFL Combine, his stock will skyrocket.
The most obvious knock on Johnson is he’s coming from a smaller school. He didn’t see nearly as much elite competition as his Division I counterparts. Interestingly enough, his stats aren’t that flashy, despite his undeniable talent.
Scouts will likely place a question mark on him until he faces tougher competition. His covering skills are solid, but he tends to rely more on his tackling skills as opposed to making a play on the football. Johnson focused mainly on jarring the football loose, which is good if it happens consistently. He was able to get away with that on the Division III level, but that will not work on the NFL level. A solid NFL cornerback must get to the football from time-to-time.
Johnson owns the tools and the mindset that scouts covet, but there are a ton of uncertainties. Even if Johnson turns in an amazing NFL Combine, he will have much more to prove than other prospects. As of now, I would expect him to go in the third or fourth round. Both rounds may be worth a look for Snead. If defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is able to work with him, Johnson would benefit and have a better shot at making an impact in the NFL.