The cornerback class in the 2019 NFL Draft has, thus far, been somewhat underwhelming. Partly because of comparisons to an incredible class of front seven defenders, but also because some of the top prospects didn’t take the anticipated steps it was hoped they would.
But where top prospects might not have stepped up, some less-heralded prospects have taken their opportunities to raise their status.
In particular, there have been several former wide receivers who have shown the potential to be legitimate contributors at the next level. Houston’s Isaiah Johnson might be of particular interest to a New York Giants’ front office which has shown a preference for length and athleticism in defensive backs.
- Very long corner. Rare height and arm length for the position.
- Great athlete. Has long speed, explosion, and short-area quickness.
- Able to stay in tight coverage with
- Impressive closing burst.
- Willing run defender.
- Can get grabby in coverage.
- Needs to improve awareness.
- Technique could use improvement.
- Former receiver who is new to the position.
What They’re Saying
Press cornerback with imposing combination of size, length and speed, but in need of more work before he is game-ready. Johnson spent his first two seasons at receiver before transitioning over to the defensive side of the ball so there is still room for improvement, but also room for moldable growth. He has Day 1 traits, Day 2 talent and the consistency of a Day 3 corner, but patience and coaching could turn him into a disruptive press corner with starting potential by his second or third season.
-Lance Zierlein (NFL.com - Scouting Report)
Does He Fit The Giants?
Isaiah Johnson fits the Giants, if they have the patience to develop him.
Johnson has the length and athleticism the Giants look for in their defenders, and some of the best raw physical tools of any corner in this draft class. When he is able to jam and get into phase with receivers, he is generally able to stay in their back pocket through the duration of the route. Johnson has impressive short-area quickness and long speed to make up ground if he gets beaten early.
However, because Johnson only has two years -- 2017 and 2018 -- at the position, he will need to be coached up and have those tools polished. As of now, he needs to continue to work on the finer aspects of the cornerback position. He can be too reliant on his hands in tight press coverage, and that will get him in trouble at the NFL level. Likewise, he can do a better job of recognizing when a receiver is about to catch the ball and using those 33-inch arms to disrupt at the catch point.
It is good to see him be so willing and physical defending the run. There are long-established defensive backs who shy away from coming downhill as hard a Johnson does.
Johsnson’s upside is tangible on tape despite the fact that he is an unfinished product. He shouldn’t be an early pick, but with the right coaching, Johnson could eventually be a steal later in the second day or early in the fourth round.