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Cole Johnson Scouting Report: 2022 NFL Draft Profile


Quarterback, James Madison Dukes, #12

Cole Johnson Measurements

6’5” / 216 lbs

40 time: TBD


Cole Johnson NFL Draft Player Profile


High School

While attending Cox High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Johnson had a pretty successful career. On the football field, he led the Falcons to the second round of the state playoffs as a junior and senior. As a junior, he was named second team All-Conference  as well as the All-Junior team. As a senior, Cole would earn first team All-Conference as well as first team All-757. He finished his high school career as the all-time leader in total touchdowns, passing touchdowns, and passing yards. He also played basketball, where he was named the team captain and team MVP. Here he was also named to the All-Conference team.

James Madison Career

Cole primarily served as a backup from 2016-2019. He would appear in a handful of games during this time. He would go 86 of 124 passing for 1,099 yards. Johnson would throw six touchdowns as well as six interceptions. Cole also had a couple of rushing touchdowns during this time as well.

It was in the 2020 Spring season that he would finally get his chance to start. In eight games, he would lead the Dukes to a 7-1 record. They only lost in the semifinal round of the FCS playoffs to eventual National Champions Sam Houston State. Cole was solid, completing 109 of 166 attempts for 1,633 yards. He finished the season with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He wasn’t asked to do too much this season. The Dukes had a fantastic running attack that they primarily leaned on.

The story changed in 2021 though. The rushing attack fell to 42nd in FCS. Johnson was asked to do more and rose to the occasion. He would set JMU single season records for passing yards and well as touchdowns. Johnson would finish the season with 3,779 yards passing, completing 287 of his 422 attempts. The best stat was his 10:1 touchdown to interception ratio. Cole finished the season with 41 touchdown passes to just four interceptions. He would once again lead the Dukes on a deep playoff run. They once again bowed out in the semifinal round.

Johnson would earn multiple All-American nominations from Stats Perform, HERO Sports and the Associated Press. He was also named CAA Offensive Player of the Year, as well as first team All-CAA. Cole would also be a finalist for the Bill Dudley Award, given to the top college football player in Viriginia. Finally, we can’t forget that he finished fourth in voting for the Walter Payton Award, the FCS version of the Heisman.

Cole Johnson Strengths


Standing in at 6’5”, you can’t really ask for more. Cole will be one of the tallest quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. In the pocket he looks the part as well. Cole stands tall and delivers passes regardless of the congestion around him. In all the games I watched of Cole, I only saw one pass get tipped at the line of scrimmage. This is a nice benefit of his height and over the shoulder release.

Arm Strength

James Madison QB Cole Johnson

James Madison QB Cole Johnson

A majority of Cole’s passes were under 20 yards. In fact, only 15% of the passes I tracked in 2021 were more than 20 yards in the air. This doesn’t mean that he can’t throw the deep pass. I saw on multiple occasions where he would throw the ball 30, 40, even 50 yards in the air with ease. He was able to stand on the hash on one side of the field and easily deliver the ball to the opposite sideline. I don’t believe that there’s a throw on the field he couldn’t make.


I feel like this is a word that gets thrown around a lot. However, when you watch Cole play, there’s just little things he does that shows how competitive he can be. He doesn’t want to back down. If he’s scrambling, he’s willing to lower the shoulder to pick up the extra yard or get in the endzone. If he hands the ball off, he’ll run up and chip the backside defensive end trying to chase down the running back. He’ll hang in the pocket and take a hit in order to get a pass off. He’ll fight to stay up against a defender in order to extend the play.

Sneaky Athletic

James Madison QB Cole Johnson

James Madison QB Cole Johnson

The first time I saw Johnson roll out of the pocket I thought that he was going to be a tree, but he’s actually sneaky athletic. He’s able to get himself out of some tight situations within the pocket. Even though he isn’t going to be making defenses look silly like a Lamar Jackson, he can still pick up big chunks of yards with his legs if given the chance.

Cole Johnson Weaknesses


The further down the field you throw the ball, the harder it is to be accurate. That’s just a given. It feels weird to worry about a guy’s accuracy coming off a season of completing almost 70% of his passes. However, Cole’s accuracy on deep balls is a still a bit of a concern. Overthrows, underthrows, it’s like he could never get it perfectly dialed in. Additionally, on intermediate and short routes, he would find himself missing high too often. This led to missing a number of open receivers in big moments.

Pocket Awareness

While he does a good job of navigating the pocket and getting out of trouble, there are times where it seems like he’s seeing ghosts. Other times it’s like he has his blinders on and doesn’t see anyone coming. The biggest example of this was on what would be the Dukes’ last play of the season. Cole rolls out to his right and tries to set up for a hail mary, but doesn’t feel the pressure coming from behind. He’s hit as he attempts the pass. The ball doesn’t make it 10 yards and the Dukes season ends.

Cole Johnson Draft Stock

Johnson isn’t a name that is really on many people’s draft boards at this time. In fact, NFL Mock Draft Database doesn’t have any information on him. Even the all mighty ESPN doesn’t have a prospect report on him. Playing at the FCS level can do that though. However, I think that will all start to change soon. Johnson is scheduled to take part in the Spiral Tropical Bowl on January 15, 2022. I also expect him to get an invite to the NFL Combine in March. This will get him in front of a few more scouts’ eyes.

Final Thoughts on Cole Johnson

Johnson is an interesting prospect that has a good bit of upside in my opinion. I think he’ll need a season or two on a practice squad learning the system and getting up to NFL speed. However, I think he would play well if given a chance once he’s up to speed. I don’t think he would pull a Dak or Russell and come out of nowhere to start the season. Also, I don’t see him anywhere near the top quarterback’s like Pickett or even Strong. Still, I think enough of him right now to where I would start to consider taking him in during the 4th or 5th round. However, I think a more likely scenario sees a team taking a late round flyer on him. He may even end up an undrafted free agent.

Pro Comparison: Josh McCown

Similar in height and weight, though I think that Johnson is the better arm talent. I think what makes the comparison is the athleticism. Johnson is, I’ll say it again, sneaky athletic and I feel McCown was the same way during his career. Don’t forget, McCown actually played as a wide receiver for Detroit once. He didn’t even look too bad. Plus, some of the competitiveness I saw from McCown during his time with the Browns reminds me of Johnson as well.

Cole Johnson Draft Prospect Report / Scouting Report by Brandon Claburn