The NFL Draft is rapidly approaching and the Dallas Cowboys have a great opportunity to add premium talent to their roster. One of the areas they'll look to upgrade is the safety spot, a position they've often put on the backburner.
Dallas has put some resources into the safety position this offseason. They added former Atlanta Falcons safeties, Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee, although the former will spend a lot of time at linebacker as well. Veteran Jayron Kearse was signed as not only a backup safety but a special teams contributor.
Names such as TCU's Trevon Moehrig, UCF's Richie Grant, and Oregon's Jevon Holland have gotten more love nationally, but Indiana's Jamar Johnson is a playmaking safety that the Cowboys should consider in the second or third round.
Johnson played a reserve role as a freshman in 2018 and produced just two tackles. As a sophomore, he upped his game to 25 tackles (4.5 tackles for loss), two interceptions, three sacks, a forced fumble, and a defensive touchdown. Johnson finished his career at Indiana with his best season in 2020 with 42 tackles (3.5 tackles for loss), four interceptions, a sack, four pass breakups, and a forced fumble while garnering First-Team All-Big Ten honors.
The most intriguing part about Johnson's game is his versatility. Not only did he play safety at Indiana he was plugged into the “Husky” position at Indiana which is a combination of safety, cornerback, and linebacker, making his skill set similar to the aforementioned Neal.
In coverage, Johnson was an absolute stud. In 406 career coverage snaps, he didn't allow a single touchdown and compiled seven interceptions for the Hoosiers on 44 targets, insanely good.
Indiana safety Jamar Johnson projects favorably as a potential NFL starter in defenses that play split safety, middle of the field open coverage with frequency. Johnson has a fair amount of upside in coverage in man assignments but his half-field responsibilities in zone allow him to process releases and simultaneously position himself well to drive and trigger on the run if need be. Johnson’s development into a prominent prospect has been one that required good fortune and steady development—he transformed from a special teamer as a freshman and eventually took over a starting role in 2020 with the Hoosiers' defense. He’s got a proven nose for the football and, at 6-foot-1 and 197 pounds, he has the kind of physicality that you’re looking for in a D-gap presence in the nickel as well. Johnson has generated strong ball production and made the most of his opportunities to generate turnovers for the Hoosiers’ defense; he accounted for six interceptions over his final 21 games with the program between 2019 and 2020. Johnson has a little bit of added polish needed to his game, but he’s got the physical profile and nose for impact plays to feel optimistic about his forecast as an NFL starter.
Former NFL coach Jim Mora recently interviewed with Sports Illustrated and had some glowing praise for Johnson when talking about his draft stock.
“I think he has the traits NFL teams are looking for in a safety,” Mora said. “He's had an extremely productive career. He's got great got instincts. He has a general idea of what's going on around him. Great vision, great eyes. He's a guy that shows very high football IQ, and that's really important at the next level because everybody is trying to confuse you.
“I like his range. His coverage ability, his position versatility, he's kind of a hybrid guy and people value that.”
Pro Day Numbers
40-yard dash: 4.58
Vertical Jump: 35 inches
Broad Jump: 10'2″
Bench Press/225 pounds: 17 reps
Johnson's ball skills, ability to provide support against the run and his sideline to sideline range make him a prime candidate to be selected with the 44th or 75th pick on Day 2 of the draft for the Cowboys.