When the Dallas Cowboys get to be on the clock with the 17th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, they’ll likely be thinking cornerback. However, Florida Gators prospect C.J. Henderson might be off the board by then. Henderson, behind Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah, is the consensus second-best cornerback of this class. After him, analysts don’t seem to agree on who’s the next best CB or what round they belong in.
This raises the question: Will the Cowboys pull the trigger on another cornerback at 17? Or will they wait until the second round? If they decide to wait until the second round, where they hold pick #51, there should be plenty of options at CB. One of the most overlooked prospects might be Utah’s Jaylon Johnson.
Since he arrived at the Pac-12 picture as a four-star recruit and a Top 10 cornerback in the nation, Johnson made an impact with the Utes. As a freshman in 2017, he was tied for the lead in pass breakups and was second in passes defended despite starting in just two regular season games.
In both 2018 and 2019, Johnson was named first-team All-Pac 12 cornerback and earned All-American honors last year. Utah’s defensive backfield has been one of the most impressive units in college football in the last couple of seasons and in big part thanks to Johnson himself.
Jaylon’s smarts allow him to anticipate routes and be in the right place at the right time. He isn’t afraid of fighting for the ball. His press coverage stands out on tape but he’s also very effective when playing zone. In college, he earned experience playing outside and inside and should be able to play anywhere in the NFL.
Plus, Johnson’s size is a fit for playing on Sunday’s. He’s 6’0″ and weighs 193 lbs. Among the concerns regarding Johnson, analysts have talked about eye discipline and being overly aggressive. Sometimes, he isn’t very willing to make the tackle. He often looks vulnerable when facing play-action.
Overall, Johnson projects as an NFL starter and will make an impact from week 1 wherever he lands in. Pick #51 might not be high enough to get away with Johnson, but if the Cowboys are convinced about him, he should be worth trading up for. Dealing away picks is not easy, but heading into a new season without a true #1 cornerback might be even harder.