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Can safety Jadar Johnson earn a spot with the Giants?

Former Clemson Tiger “thankful” for UDFA opportunity with Big Blue

Clemson v Auburn
Jadar Johnson intercepts a pass against Auburn.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Right now the New York Giants appear to be set at the safety position. They have Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Andrew Adams, Nat Berhe and Mykkele Thompson as holdovers. They have Rahim Moore, a player with 54 NFL starts, competing for a roster spot.

Do you ever really know, though, if you are truly set any any single position in the NFL? Adams was an undrafted free agent who only got to play last season because the two Thompson’s were out for the season with injuries and Berhe couldn’t stay on the field due to concussion issues.

The Giants also had a rash of injuries at safety in 2015, when they were forced to pick up veterans Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl just to have warm bodies who knew what they were doing to play the position.

In 2014, the Giants went through so many injuries at running back that six different players started games. So, again, you never really know.

Which brings to us to Jadar Johnson. An undrafted free agent safety from Clemson, Johnson signed with the Giants and will be one of the players participating in this weekend’s rookie mini-camp.

Does he have a chance to stick around? Well, Adams did last year, so sure. Let’s learn more about him.

Brian Lewis of SB Nation’s Clemson blog, Shakin The Southland, said “it shocked me” that Johnson went undrafted.

“I don't know of anything character related that would have caused him to drop. If anything I thought he was a little underrated in the projections of where he would go in the NFL draft,” Lewis said. “With his coverage skills I thought someone would want to draft him. The run support is weak, but to me that is something that is a lot easier to coach a guy on than pass defense which he's very good at. He's also got the physical look of a safety.”

In a profile of Johnson prior to the draft, Shakin The Southland’s Brian Goodison referred to Johnson as “one of those under the radar players” and said he would “definitely” be drafted. That, of course, turned out to be incorrect.

Johnson told the Times and Democrat that he “kind of expected” to go undrafted because he “wasn’t one of the bigger names in the draft.”

“When I got that call from the Giants it made my day because all I ask for is a foot in the door — just let me get a shot. They gave me that, so I’m thankful for the Giants organization,” Johnson said. “When it comes to the NFL, they’re not going to invest any money in you if they don’t think you can play. Even though it’s a free agent deal, that’s still a good sign for me knowing that they believe in me and believe that I have enough talent to actually play on that level.

“I get the same opportunity as everyone else, even the guys that went in the first round — I get the same opportunity as them to compete when we all get there. It’s really all about getting that first step in the door.”

Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst said that Johnson was a “solid college safety with no single outstanding dimension to his game ... possesses the size to play at the next level and has shown consistent development in his game the past two years, which gives him a chance moving into camp this summer.”

Here is a look at Johnson’s spider chart, which shows pretty decent measurables:

In his 2017 NFL Draft Guide, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports had a fourth-round grade on Johnson:

A one-year starter at Clemson, Johnson seized his opportunity to be a starter in 2016 and was one of the top defensive play-makers for the NationalChampions. He is a good-sized athlete with length and explosive traits that show near the box and in the deep half of the field. Johnson is at his best floating overtop coverages with arguably the best ball skills of any safety in this draft class. His main issue is in run support with too many “almost” tackles due to streaky technique and reckless angles. Overall, Johnson has discipline issues that lead to negative plays, but he has NFL play speed and trusts his instincts, which should continue anddevelop with added reps/experience – starter potential if he proves to be more consistent vs. the run.

We begin to find out Friday if Johnson can do something with the chance the Giants have given him.

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