Antonio Johnson Scouting Report and NFL Draft Profile
Antonio Johnson Scouting Report: Texas A&M Aggies, Safety, #27
2023 NFL Draft Measurements
6’2″ / 198 lbs.
Antonio Johnson 40 Time – 4.52
Antonio Johnson Draft Profile
Johnson is a former 4-star recruit from East St. Louis High School in East St. Louis, Illinois. According to 247sports, Johnson was the 2nd best player in the state of Illinois behind Peter Skoronski. They also had him graded as the 2nd best safety in the nation. He was ranked one spot below teammate Jaylon Jones and one spot above Alabama’s Brian Branch. While achieving this status, he received 25 Division I offers before his senior season. In June 2019, Johnson originally committed to the Tennessee Volunteers. After around a month and a half, Johnson decided to take his talent to Texas A&M instead.
Antonio Johnson has played three seasons for the Aggies. As a true freshman in 2020, he played in 4 games where he racked up 14 total tackles. During his junior season, he saw significantly more of the field. He played in 12 games where he had 79 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, and 5 PBUs. Finally, in his junior season, he only played in 9 games. But in those 9 games, he racked up 71 tackles, 1 sack, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 PBU.
Antonio Johnson Strengths
Johnson is very good at stopping the run regardless of where he is lined up prior to the snap. Throughout the play, he does a good job of keeping his eye on the ball. By doing so, he is able to quickly close out on the ball carrier and deliver a powerful hit in the backfield. Additionally, Johnson is very good at disrupting bubble and screen plays. When closing out on his target, he does a good job of shedding blocks in order to get to his target behind the line of scrimmage. If Johnson is playing deeper in zone coverage, he can effortlessly bring down the ball carrier in open field. This is due to his amazing instincts and reactions that allow him to track down the runner and deliver a powerful hit.
When watching his film, I was impressed with how smart of a player he is. Prior to the snap, Johnson is reading the offense and adjusting his leverage. Regardless of the play call, he knows how to make a play on the ball. In man coverage, he is a natural at anticipating when the receiver is going to break in their route. When they do, Johnson quickly flips his hips and stays with them throughout their route. In zone coverage, he is good at quickly reacting to the QB throwing the ball. This allows him to get a good jump on the ball and make the stop. Finally, when he is lined up in the box, he can effortlessly get into the backfield and disrupt the run and screen plays.
Antonio Johnson is one of my favorite safeties in this draft class and that is because of how versatile he is. His role at Texas A&M was very similar to Jalen Pitre’s role at Baylor. They both primarily alternate between the slot and single high safety looks. But, they can also line up in the box as I mentioned earlier. If you are facing a team with a QB that cracks when under pressure, you can even slide Johnson in as an extra EDGE rusher. Regardless of a team’s positional needs, they would really benefit from having Johnson on their team.
When lined up in the slot, Johnson is very good in man coverage. In press coverage, he does a good job of using his above-average size to jam the receiver. This forces them off-balance and delays their route stem. Johnson is also good at changing directions on a dime, especially when covering 45 and 90-degree in-breaking routes. This is due to him being able to sink his hips and explode in another direction. When covering deep routes, I was also impressed with his ability to flip his hips 180 degrees and take off down the field. If you want to see his hip mobility in action, go watch his film and highlights from the combine.
Antonio Johnson Weaknesses
Although I just mentioned that Johnson’s hips are very mobile, I do have concerns when he is backpedaling. Regardless of where he is lined up, Johnson has a tendency to keep his hips too high when backpedaling. This hinders his ability to stay with his target during their route stem as well as his ability to work back into deep zone coverage. His high hips in soft coverage also lead to him giving up too much space and allowing an easy catch below him.
The biggest concern that I have surrounding Johnson’s game is his ball skills. Throughout his college career, he only recorded 7 PBUs and 1 interception. After reviewing his film, I don’t believe that Johnson has the ball skills needed to consistently break up passing plays. He often relies on his tackling to bring down the receiver after they make the catch. If Johnson had slightly better ball skills, there is no question that he would be competing with Branch for the number 1 safety spot.
Antonio Johnson Draft Stock
As of today, NFL Mock Draft Database has Johnson ranked as the 45th-best prospect in the draft. After watching countless hours of his film, I would have to agree with this ranking. Out of the top safeties in the draft, I would have to put him at number 2 behind Brian Branch. This would also put him directly above Jammie Robinson and Ji’Ayir Brown.
Final Thoughts on Antonio Johnson Scouting Report
Antonio Johnson has been one of the most fun defensive backs to watch the past three seasons. He is incredibly versatile and has the ability to cover anyone anywhere on the field. This is due to his amazing instincts and athleticism. Although he is good in man coverage, Johnson is at his best when he is stopping the run and bubble screens. He does a good job of keeping his eye on the ball and following it everywhere on the field. When he has a chance to get to the ball, I would not want to get in his way because he will take down anyone in his way to get to the ball carrier.
In order for him to be a star in the NFL, he needs to work on keeping his hips low when backpedaling. This will allow him to stay close to his target throughout their route stem. It will also decrease the amount of space he leaves below him. He also needs to work on his ball skills because relying on delivering bone-crushing hits will not get you very far in the NFL.
Antonio Johnson Player Comparison
When watching his film the last two seasons, he reminded me a lot of Kyle Dugger.
Antonio Johnson Scouting Report and Player Profile Analyst – Matthew Lewis