After missing eleven games, Las Vegas Raiders CB Isaiah Johnson appears ready. Now, you may be asking yourself, for what? Currently, a global pandemic shut most of the country down. Yet, after missing roughly two-thirds of the season, Johnson will jump into the fray, whenever the camp commences. While some of you have forgotten about Johnson, here are a few thoughts about the second-year player from the University of Houston.
Now, don’t let that title fool you. In 2019, Johnson played just fourteen defensive snaps during the season, which equates to one percent of total plays. In any other case, that should be a cause for concern. Yet, with Johnson, that only leads to intrigue and endless possibilities. Granted, no one expects him to garner a starting role. In contrast, what Johnson brings to the table remains higher than some contemporaries.
Physically, Johnson presents the Raiders with an interesting combination of size and speed. At 6’2”, he matches up with the Mike Williamses of the league. Yet, at 208 pounds, conceivably, he could conceivably cover a tight end. Imagine an athletic Daryl Worley, with the ability to cover wideouts and the occasional tight end. On measurables alone, Johnson’s ability to run like a much smaller corner justified his draft selection and roster spot.
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A converted wide receiver, Johnson is still learning the nuance and technical aspects of the position. After twenty-two college games and fourteen defensive snaps, there is an immediate steep learning curve. Additionally, route diagnosis and tracing must continue to improve. Crafty receivers will use Johnson’s inexperience against him. With another full camp, and intensive coaching, Johnson can iron out the hitches in his game As a result, the Raiders will give him ample time and opportunity to improve the field aspect of the game. Another hiccup, in need of smoothing out, is tackling. Johnson’s burst could deliver sound tackles that end plays. He must get square and use his strength to his advantage.
If you look at the depth chart for the secondary, the Raiders attempted to restock a group that lacked depth in 2019. Now, on the surface, the Raiders currently employ ten corners and five safeties. Ignore those numbers and look deeper. Of those, seven will probably start the season on the roster. Despite fewer reps and field time, Johnson, if fully healthy will climb into the rotation and into subpackages. Immediately, he will secure a special teams spot. Although not probably preferred, field time works.
After the 2020 Draft, the AFC West appeared different. Even Denver, a team that looked rather pedestrian offensively, in spots, improved. Isaiah Johnson may not earn a starting spot this season. There are too many corners ahead of him. However, don’t bet against him seeing the field. With his length, speed, size, and ball skills, he vaults ahead of many teammates. In all honesty, an eventual move to safety should not fly out of the realm of possibility.