Analysis NFL Draft Opinion

Utah CB Jaylon Johnson may be the best fit for the Chiefs at pick #32

When you think about the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs, you think about two things: a potent offense, and a much improved defense. In my opinion, the latter of the two is the reason for the turnaround and victory in Super Bowl  54. Most people aren’t aware of this, but without their defensive improvement in 2019, the Chiefs aren’t in the position to play in the Superbowl. In fact, this improvement was critical for the much needed grit and determination to dig deep and come back from a 20-10 deficit in the 4th quarter. I think this was possible because of what the defense was able to do with a combination of pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo and solid coverage across the board from guys like Bashaud Breeland, and Charvarius Ward. The impact a single CB can have in this system can be felt in just one game. Now think about that impact through a 19 game schedule. Without a solid CB group in this league, you can’t win games. This leads me to consider a dynamic player who could improve our CB group in the 2020 NFL Draft. His name is Jaylon Johnson. 

Jaylon Johnson is a 6’0”, 190 lbs, Jr, CB, from Utah, who was 1st-team all Pac-12, and was able to secure 4 interceptions in his last collegiate season. As we have seen in the past, the Chiefs seem to like big corners with elite man coverage ability who love to attack the football and try to force turnovers.  To make things a little easier, I will just give you my full scouting report on Johnson. 

Man Coverage- When he’s able to set his hands on bodies, he’s super sticky and shows great work sliding and staying leveraged while flipping hips vertically to work into trail position and carry receivers up the field. He also does well when on the hip to stay attached to receivers and use length to influence catch point. 

Zone Coverage- He doesn’t display high-end quickness that allows him click and close in leveraged coverage. He could press and squat in the flat and offers length to sink under throws behind him. Yet, asking him to play in space won’t inspire. Quarters is probably his best zone, given a smaller area of responsibility. 

Ball Skills- He has fairly consistent ball production. If he’s in the ballpark, he’s going to make a play. He uses great length and good hand-eye coordination to extend and bat at balls with maximum influence. He tends to lose a little bit of his long speed when he’s flipping back to find the football on vertical routes. 

Flexibility- Through the hips he’s tight, but had some improvement in this area in 2019 where he showed the ability to seamlessly carry route breaks. High hips are a byproduct of his long frame, but are something that he has shown an effort to smooth out and improve. He will probably need to play exclusively bail tech in deep zone as his pedal isn’t overly natural. Although, according to him, this is an area he has made a primary focus in improving. We will see if the hip fluidity is something he can work on as he transitions to the next level. 

Acceleration- He’s got enough here to do the job, but if he whiffs on his press he might be in for a rough rep. He’s not a burner and is going to have to thrive on rerouting the body early in order to stave off conceding separation. Fortunately, he’s quite good on this front, so don’t be scared off by long speed.
Competitive Toughness- Physical tackler! I appreciate his willingness to aggressively challenge the football in head up scenarios in the secondary or along the boundary. He stacks up blockers well and also shows desirable functional strength when squeezing route stems to diminish throwing windows. 

Run Support- He’s got the right attitude for the job here. He possesses effective skills stacking when keying run early. His length makes him almost impossible to set hook on and he’s eager to step forward. He may not process quickly on reps where he’s run off the line, but this is a minor gripe relative to everything else he brings here. 

Tackling- His wingspan is a valuable tool on the edge — leverages team pursuit and sideline well to ensure backs or quick throws don’t get the corner on him and spring big plays to his side. He’s got reach to simultaneously contest the throw and secure the body of receivers in space. 

Best Ability- Physicality in Coverage. 

Worst Ability- Flexibility, eye discipline, long speed. 

Best Film- Washington (2019) 

Worst Film- Oregon (2019) 

Pro Comparison- Shaquill Griffin.

I understand this all seems to be an overwhelming amount of information. However, the full scouting report is necessary to understand why Jaylon Johnson could be the perfect fit for the Kansas City Chiefs at 32 overall. In the grand scheme of things, it’s actually quite simple. He fits what they like to do. Looking at all the information above, he projects to be a guy that thrives in his ability to get his hands on a WR. He plays physical at the line of scrimmage, but I think he has upside long term in zone coverage as long as he develops his vision and understanding of how to execute a zone scheme. He plays best in Quarters coverage, As we saw last year, Steve Spagnuolo likes to be creative in coverage and has a tendency to split coverage out of the Base, Nickel, and Dime sets. He runs zone on one side and man coverage on the other side. We could see this frequently in his usage of the outside corners on a number two receiver. Most often, they would zone bracket an offense’s number one guy and put one of their physical corners, who thrive on jamming a guy at the line, in man. I think this coverage concept would be a great way to help Jaylon Johnson thrive early in his career. The key to making guys successful in this league is understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Spagnuolo does the best he can to put his players in a position to succeed and do utilize their strengths. With Johnson, a big weakness is his flexibility, which he addressed on the Stick to Football podcast this week saying, “I don’t understand why people question my hips being flexible.” Perhaps, we, as the media, overthink this type of thing. What I find encouraging is that Johnson has seen the criticisms of his flexibility. I expect that to be something he strives to work on as he strives to prove the national media wrong. His other glaring weakness is his vision and understanding at times of what he is seeing. I think the coaching staff in KC and the DB’s that he will be playing alongside will easily correct this issue.

Consider a guy like Bashaud Breeland. He is is very similar to Jaylon Johnson. He thrives in man coverage and physical play, but people question his ability with his hips, vision, and long speed just like Jaylon Johnson. I know most of the fans were thrilled to get Breeland back into the fold on a 1-year deal worth 4.5M. So why not draft a guy on a rookie deal who has Shaquill Griffin’s upside and Bashaud Breeland’s floor at pick 32? We know what he is good at. Simply put him in a position to succeed early, and let him develop alongside Tyrann, Juan, Breeland, and Ward. It’s the perfect situation for him and the perfect situation for what Kansas City wants to do. Not to mention that I feel like a guy with this much upside would be a great value. He is potentially a steal if we can bring him in and help him shore up some of his areas of weakness. One thing I look for in a CB is their success rate in coverage. How many plays do they go without giving up a touchdown? As you can see in the graphic below, Jaylon Johnson allowed only 3 TD’s in his entire career at Utah while playing 1,256 snaps. Playing against QB’s like Justin Herbert,L and Sam Darnold, who both possess 1st-round NFL talent. That is an impressive stat. If he can be that efficient in the NFL, he will be a star in no time.

So all in all, Jaylon Johnson is a player who is a high-effort guy. He thrives in man coverage and is a willing tackler with good competitive toughness. He is also improving his zone coverage skills, and is making a conscious effort to improve the biggest issue in his game. As long as Jaylon Johnson is available at pick 32, I think the Chiefs should make a move for a guy who thrives in what they like to do. He is a coachable guy that shows willingness improve. All you can wish for value-wise at pick 32, is a guy who loves the game, thrives on a certain trait, and has the upside to become a solid starter, if not a star, in this league. Jaylon Johnson’s floor is a guy like Bashaud Breeland, and his ceiling is a star corner that resembles Shaquill Griffin. As a Chiefs fan myself, I think that Jaylon Johnson is a great fit for the defensive scheme. He can maximize what Spagnuolo wants to do by filling the role that Ward plays as a lock down man to man corner, and give Charvarius more flexibility to do other things. Ward is a more versatile player in my eyes, but  Johnson has higher upside as a shutdown Press Man Corner. Looking at the big picture, adding a guy like Johnson will put the Chiefs Defense in a position to do what they did last year coverage wise at an even higher level. This should allow the pass coverage to improve and maybe make its way into the top five in the league. They weren’t far off from that coming in 9th in Pass Defense in 2019, and with Jaylon Johnson in the fold they can be even better in 2020. I’m all in on the idea of taking a guy who could become as good as Shaquill Griffin at pick 32, and give the team a chance at having and even better pass defense in 2020. This improvement will help the defense all around and give them a real shot to defend their Super Bowl title. Ultimately, this is the goal for the entire franchise and Chiefs Kingdom. Wouldn’t you agree? This is why Jaylon Johnson is the perfect fit at pick #32 for the Chiefs. 

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