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90-Man Roster Preview: Can UDFA Jadar Johnson Make The Team?

Rookie has lots of competition for backup safety role

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp
Jadar Johnson tries to stay in front of Odell Beckham Jr. during mini-camp.
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Undrafted free agent safety Jadar Johnson said recently that he chose to join the New York Giants and compete for a roster spot because “I felt like I was a good fit.” Question is, will the former Clemson safety be able to fit into the picture for the Giants, either on the 53-man roster or as a member of the 10-man practice squad?

Let’s take a closer look at Johnson as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.

2016 Season In Review

Johnson started for the national champion Clemson Tigers after three seasons as a backup. He made 65 tackles, two for loss, forced two fumbles and had five interceptions.

2017 Season Outlook

Johnson is in a crowded competition for what looks like one reserve safety spot, and he may be the longest shot in the field. He is the only one who has never at least been in an NFL camp befoe. Landon Collins, Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams will be on the roster, assuming all are healthy. That leaves veteran holdover Nat Berhe, veteran free agent Duke Ihenacho, Eric Pinkins, Ryan Murphy and Johnson competing for the fourth safety slot.

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 National Champions. 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 over top 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 and develop with added reps/experience – starter potential if he proves to be more consistent vs. the run.

Adams landed on the practice squad as an undrafted free agent last season, and ended up starting 13 games. The guess here is that Johnson follows a similar path, landing on the practice squad initially and then simply waiting to see if a bigger opportunity comes along.