Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston
6’2”, 205 pounds
4.40 40-yqrd dash
36.5-inch vertical leap
133-inch broad jump
6.81 second 3-cone
4.06 second shuttle
2018: 66 tackles, 5 passes defensed, 2 INT
2017: 45 tackles, 7 passes defensed, 2 INT
2016: 15 catches, 165 yards (converted from wide receiver to cornerback after sophomore season)
Paul Guenther looks for long, athletic corners with the ability to play press man coverage, and Johnson was one of the most athletic cornerbacks available in the 2019 NFL Draft. His natural athleticism allows for fluidity in his movements, and helps give him excellent change of direction skills. He also possesses elite speed (4.4 40).
Possesses above average ball skills, and his speed and length allow him to both run with speedy receivers and offer great recovery speed. His experience on the offensive side of the ball as a former wide receiver at times seems to lend him the benefit of a better understanding of what the offense is doing.
His size, strength and speed allow him to match up against more physically imposing receivers. Add in that he was also a special teams mainstay during his time at Houston, specifically as a gunner on the punt unit, where his length and speed regularly allowed him to both fight off and run away from jammers, and it’s easy to understand the upside the Raiders see in him.
Having spent his first three seasons at Houston as a wide receiver, and a defensive back the past two seasons, he is still learning how to play the position and his technique is still raw. As a result, he is sometimes susceptible to being embarrassed by more polished receivers, such as was seen when he faced off with Deebo Samuel, a second round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, in a practice at the Senior Bowl.
My goodness, Deebo Samuel, you didn’t have to do him like THAT pic.twitter.com/7xLhwTXyJm— The Draft Network (@DraftNetworkLLC) January 24, 2019
Further, while he is certainly a willing tackler, with just two years of experience on the defensive side of the ball, his form can be questionable at times.
I get that Isaiah Johnson has only played defense for a couple years, but this is the worst tackle attempt I've ever seen when evaluating a prospect pic.twitter.com/0Fhe84mzao— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) March 8, 2019
Johnson certainly possesses the athleticism and physical build to develop into the type of press corner that the Oakland Raiders are looking for. However, having only played on the defensive side of the ball for his junior and senior seasons, he remains extremely raw. The talent and physical skills are readily visible on tape, and with time and effort he has the potential to develop into a high level corner. That said, getting to that point will be a process, and not something fans should expect right out of the gate.
Fit with Raiders
The first place he is likely to contribute is special teams, where willingness to participate on punt and kickoff coverage will be welcome. Beyond special teams he should provide depth in the secondary, as he has the length to step in on the outside if necessary and the athleticism to cover the slot if called upon to do so. As depth, he’ll be able to hone and further develop his skills as a defensive back without the pressure of being one of the team’s top two corners. That should give him the time he needs to further refine his game to the point where it is NFL ready.