After an impressive season for one of the surprise teams of the 2020 college football season, Indiana safety Jamar Johnson is a 2021 NFL Draft prospect on the rise. Can he become the first Hoosiers defensive back to be drafted to the NFL since 2010?
Jamar Johnson NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: Indiana
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’2 1/4″
- Weight: 205 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Jamar Johnson Scouting Report
Positives: Underrated safety prospect who is explosive against the run and solid in coverage. Feisty, mixes it up with opponents, and displays range. Tracks the pass in the air, displays a good break to the throw, and effectively times pass defenses. Stays with assignments, fluidly moves in all directions, and possesses good hands for the interception. Effective facing the action and stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks. Sifts through the trash to get upfield and make plays against the run.
Negatives: Possesses average play speed and isn’t fast getting to the flanks. Most effective facing the action.
Analysis: Johnson displayed consistent progress in his game the past two seasons and comes with upside. He’s more of a strong safety or zone safety, but he’s effective in defending the run and covering the pass.
Jamar Johnson Player Profile
Although Jamar Johnson leaves Indiana as an ascending 2021 NFL Draft prospect, he arrived there following a standout high school career. As a junior at River View High School, he helped the Rams to a district title. That season he was voted the team’s most valuable defensive back.
In addition to his exploits on the field as a junior, he was also a talented track athlete. He competed in the 110m hurdles, both long and triple jump, and the 4 x 100m relay. The speed and agility honed on the track helped prepare him for a dominant senior season.
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Once again, Johnson helped lead River View to a district title. A team captain, he was also named the team MVP, and earned First Team All-Area honors. He also showcased versatility, playing both sides of the ball and contributing on special teams.
As a defensive back, he racked up 62 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 6 interceptions — including one for a touchdown, and 3 forced fumbles. He also had 2 touchdowns and 219 receiving yards from 13 receptions as a wide receiver and returned 3 kicks for touchdowns.
A three-star recruit, Jamar Johnson was ranked as the 100th CB in the 2018 class. He held offers from “Power 5” schools including Iowa State, Washington State, and Virginia Tech, plus a raft of smaller-school offers. However, he chose Indiana, enrolling midway through 2018.
Jamar Johnson’s college football career at Indiana
Jamar Johnson saw substantial playing time as a true freshman. He played in 10 games for Indiana as a safety, but he also starred on special teams. Likewise, Johnson gained recognition as the Indiana Special Teams Player of the Week against Ohio State.
Demonstrating the ball skills that had made him so productive as a high school player, he secured his first career interception in the Hoosiers’ win over Rutgers. He’d add further interceptions as a sophomore in 2019. He tied the team lead for interceptions after securing a pick against Purdue and a touchdown interception versus Tennessee.
Showcasing an ability to be an all-round disruptor on defense, Johnson also finished third on the team for sacks. With versatility a key attribute as he heads to the 2021 NFL Draft, Jamar Johnson exhibited his potential by seeing time at the team’s “husky” position — a combination of safety, linebacker, and cornerback.
His junior season got off to a flyer against Penn State. Johnson contributed a tackle for loss, an interception, and a forced fumble, as the Hoosiers surprised the heavily fancied Nittany Lions. The performance earned him Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Demonstrating a flair for the big game, he twice picked off Justin Fields as Indiana played Ohio State hard. Starting all eight games at free safety, he finished the year with 42 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 4 pass breakups, and a sack. His performances earned him All-Big Ten honors — the first Indiana safety to do so since 1996.
In early January, Jamar Johnson opted to forego his remaining eligibility and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Jamar Johnson’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Indiana safety Jamar Johnson is a scheme and positionally versatile prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. Indiana has played a 4-2-5 defense during his career there, and he has lined up in various positions.
Therefore, he should be able to adapt to most defensive schemes in the NFL. He has the ball skills, football instincts, and enough functional athleticism to impact the game whether that be in the box, covering in the slot, or playing as a high safety.
Teams with a need at the safety position include the Las Vegas Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, and Minnesota Vikings. Additionally, there a large number of teams that could look to add versatile playmakers to the secondary.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.
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