NAME: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
WEIGHT: 210 pounds
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With the next draft prospect profile, we look at a safety who improved as a player in 2018, and as a result, should increase his stock in the upcoming NFL Draft. There is a lot of potential that his uptick can continue at the NFL level. We will take a look at the areas where he improved on greatly in 2018, and what top attributes he provides on defense.
For a safety, Gardner-Johnson seems very comfortable when playing man coverage. He mirrors receivers well and is fairly smooth when turning his hips and running with them. There is some slight hesitation on throws that are in front of him. But, he has the awareness and burst that can improve this area at the next level. He is also physical when playing the ball at the top of routes. In zone coverage, Gardner-Johnson does well at being able to play a good chunk of the field. This is meaning that he will be able to run down any play, because of the routes he takes on most plays.
Gardner-Johnson has a strong ability to track the ball when needing to turn and run against deep routes. The mental processing he uses with his eyes, allow for well-timed closing speed and crashing on balls at the catch point. There can be some hesitation as mentioned but Gardner-Johnson is rarely in a bad position. At least in 2018 that is. In 2017, there were times where he came up inconsistently in the angles he took against ball carriers.
There is a belief that Gardner-Johnson could eventually move to outside cornerback for the NFL level. This is because he is going to play good coverage and make plays in any position he is put in on the field. He can play any coverage, and is more comfortable it seems, moving around in different matchups. Gardner-Johnson was exposed to more slot coverage in 2018. As a result, he was able to improve his all-around game. Things like his awareness and being more of a force against skill players were among some of these improvements. I think Gardner-Johnson’s versatility is one reason why he could be selected within the top twenty selections of the first round come April.
This was the biggest area that seemed like Gardner-Johnson improved on from 2017 to 2018. I don’t know if it was being put in different positions or not. But in 2017, he was very timid and wild in his tackling. In 2018, Gardner-Johnson learned to fly around and be more controlled. When he flies up from the back end, he looks like a torpedo ready to fly through someone. In contrast, that was nonexistent the previous season. I think that his above average size for a safety helps in his tackling ability as well.
As a larger sized, athletic defender, I think that would be a perfect type of safety/cornerback in the Chiefs defense. The way he was used at Florida in some blitz packages is also similar to what Steve Spagnuolo likes to dial up more often than other defensive coordinators. As mentioned before, I think his stock is rising at the right time. But, there is also more potential that is yet to be discovered due to the attributes mentioned above. I actually think safety is a bigger need than cornerback for the Chiefs secondary, we’ll see if that’s where he would stick if KC were to select him.
Thank you for reading. Be sure to check out all of the draft profiles available on Full Press Coverage.