2019 Raiders Draft Prospect Profile
Name: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
School: The University of Florida
Weight: 208 pounds
Round Projection: 3-4
For a safety, Johnson explodes through patterns. Regardless of location on the field, he shows outstanding range and the ability to stay with any receiver. Meanwhile, he also shows a knack for blitz. Johnson uses step economy to get into the backfield. While many defensive backs will veer wider than usual, he will make a beeline for the passer. By the time, the passer drops back, Johnson is no more than a step away from him.
As a safety, Florida used Johnson all over the field. First, he locked up the slot receiver, jumping option routes. With speed and range, he does sag too far behind the receiver. In addition, in zone coverage, Johnson uses above-average timing to break on the ball. When he does not break up the pass, he will jar the receiver, in hopes of shaking the ball loose. In pursuit, he will take the smarter angle. Instead of the overly sharp that allows for chunk yardage, his vision sees the play before it develops.
Like a corner, Johnson will open his hips and adjust to the route. Unlike most safeties locked in man, he shows the dexterity in changing direction. As an illustration, this video shows him jumping from full backpedal to driving on the ball. Normally, some safeties would possess a lag step. They would lose ground in recovery.
If you check the tape and read his stats, Johnson owns an interesting stat line. Despite only twelve PBU, he does boast seven interceptions. That is to say, when he does encounter the ball, the play usually turns to change the game. However, Johnson needs to tighten up his ability to deflect the ball away with either hand. Instead of reach across or around the receiver, the opposite hand can also work.
As mentioned, Johnson brings a fearless approach to hitting. More importantly, he will time the hit, just as the ball arrives with the receiver in mid-air. While not defenseless, the receiver cannot brace for those but the play remains clean. On the ground, Johnson shows no hesitation in driving a shoulder into the chest. Impactful tackles, combined with improving technique show progress as a threat.
Marcus Gilchrist, Erik Harris, and Reggie Nelson currently sit on the roster, the Raiders need youthful playmakers. While none of the aforementioned possesses even decent range, Johnson provides the ability to change the unit. With Gareon Conley emerging as a breakout star, the Raiders need to stock the secondary with younger talents. Using a safety that can cover the slot, provide run support and blitz, could help Paul Guenther’s scheme evolve. Granted, the scheme shows traits of success. Now, the Raiders should add a player like Johnson to make it work.