The Utah Utes’ 2019 defense was absurdly loaded with talent. They had eight players who are likely to be drafted and at least four of those eight will be gone after the first two days of the draft.

The best among that elite squad though was cornerback Jaylon Johnson. He was named First-Team All-Pac 12 in 2018 and 2019 and was a second-team All-American in 2019 as well.

Without doubt, he was one of college football’s best cornerbacks over the past few seasons, but how will he translate to the NFL?


Jaylon Johnson just feels like a Vic Fangio cornerback.

He’s proven to be adept in both man and zone coverage at Utah, which is important because Fangio asks his corners to play quite a bit of both. He also doesn’t have a problem with being physical in press coverage.

Also important for Fangio is how smart and instinctive Johnson is. He’s excellent at feeling his receiver’s route and hanging close because he possesses good athleticism and feet to ease any recovery he has to make.

Johnson has the agility to hang with the smaller, more nimble receivers and he has the size, vertical leap and physicality to challenge larger targets. He’s also very aggressive and loves to attack at the catch point, making him a constant threat to take it the distance.


Johnson’s aggressive style of play didn’t always work out for him, though, as he would occasionally jump a route too soon, which would lead to the receiver making a big play after the catch.

While Johnson has the tools to be physical and to make plays in the running game, he’s not necessarily eager to. He often plays the run a lot more conservatively than he necessarily has to.

He also needs to play with a greater sense of calm and control. He has the technique, coaching, and ability to make the plays, but he often looks too twitchy and juiced up, just eager to make the first play he comes across.

While there are positive aspects to that mentality, you need your cornerback to be controlled and do his job first before anything else.


Jaylon Johnson is a super toolsy cornerback that would excel in Vic Fangio’s scheme. He has all the physical tools you could want and the mental side of the game is close to coming together for him.

Johnson is like a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle with just a few more pieces remaining, waiting to be snapped into place. The picture of the puzzle is clear, all he needs is the right development at the next level to finish putting the last pieces together.

Draft Projection: Late Round 1-middle of Round 2

Player Comparison: A.J. Bouye. Almost identical in terms of combine results, height and weight. Both are also good tacklers with the versatility to play both man and zone well.