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Miami Hurricanes Safety Jaquan Johnson Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 2019 NFL Draft

Buffalo receives a “franchise” player in the sixth round

Michael Meredith

A focal player of the Hurricanes defense has officially taken the next step in his career. On day three of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected Jaquan Johnson in the sixth round.

Background Information

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 191 lbs.

Arm Length: 29 ⅝”

Hand Size: 8 ¾”

High School: Killian (Miami) High School

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Class: Senior

NFL Scouting Combine Numbers

40-yard dash: 4.69 seconds

Bench Press: 18 reps

Vertical Jump: 33”

Broad Jump: 121”

Awards and Accolades

2017 All-ACC Second Team

2017 All-America Second Team

2018 All-ACC Second Team

Miami v North Carolina State Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

As much as the University of Miami gets credited with developing NFL-caliber talent, the school should also be known for its penchant at fostering leaders at the pro level as well. From Alonzo Highsmith and Ray Lewis to Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma and Calais Campbell, Miami’s reputation precedes itself with its notable alumni.

Senior safety Jaquan Johnson appears to be the next Hurricane poised to take the NFL by storm, both on the field and in the locker room. With a voice that has resonated in the Hurricanes’ locker room over the past four seasons, Johnson was one of the unquestioned leaders within the program. Holding himself and others to accountable to Miami’s standards, you could always count on Jaquan to provide a boost when the team needed him most.

What grabs your attention about Johnson’s game is just how physical he is as a safety. Some pundits are critical because of his size, but that issue doesn’t show up on film. Based on his football IQ, Johnson maneuvers into advantageous positions to make a play on the ball. It’s part of the reason why he had eight interceptions during his Canes career. That anticipation paired with the range to break on the ball is what made Johnson a significant playmaker at the college level.

Jaquan improved on his 40-yard dash at Miami’s Pro day, going from a 4.69 recorded at the NFL Scouting Combine to a 4.64. Whether the improvement will do much for his stock or not will be determined by where he’s selected in April. However, Johnson’s mobility in coverage has already won some teams over. Excelling close to the line of scrimmage or at an intermediate depth, Johnson thrives as a box safety. Let’s consider Johnson as more of a hybrid safety that can play the deep part of the field or slide into the box. At the pro level, Johnson is capable of covering tight ends and large-frame wide receivers. Despite not having top end speed, Johnson has a few tricks up his sleeves to force incompletions. Employing a timely punch, batting down a pass, or placing his body between ball and receiver, Johnson frequently finds a way to dislodge the ball from its intended target.

Some experts have conveyed their concern over Johnson’s lack of height at safety. No. 4 measures in at 5’10”, and 190 pounds, yet plays like a man that is much taller than his measurables suggest. There’s little hesitancy in his game, shown by his willingness to launch himself into ball carriers and piles. Johnson’s aiming point does tend to be low when going in for the tackle, opting for a safer approach to secure the tackle than going for big hits. When the ball is in the air, Johnson is an opportunist capable of recovering any deflection or errant bounce.

For those who overlook Jaquan Johnson purely for his measurables, you’re making a serious mistake. He won’t be the fastest player on the team, nor will he deliver the big hit that will cause the crowd to swoon. What Johnson can do for you is be a dependable player and teammate, with the potential to grow into a leader regardless of the situation. With availability being a crucial element at the NFL level, Johnson has missed just two games to injury in his four years at Miami. An unquestioned leader while at UM, Jaquan Johnson exceeds any checklist regarding character and work ethic required to be successful in the NFL.

It’s going to sound cliche to say that any player should be measured by their heart. However, there’s no questioning the love that No.4 has for the game of football, and the passion that he has played with throughout his Hurricanes’ career. Armed with the versatility, instincts and determination, Johnson possess the traits to be an invaluable starter at the next level. When asked to describe his mentality during draft preparation, Johnson provided insight into his daily motivation: “For me, it’s like fourth and inches everyday, that’s what my coach tells me everytime.” One fortunate team will draft this gem and receive a hard worker who will bust his tail to make his team better. “I’m a competitor, you’re going to get the best out of me regardless.”

Pro Comparison

Eric Weddle - Los Angeles Rams

One man that knows what it’s like to be dismissed despite having impressive college production is former 2nd round pick out of Utah, S Eric Weddle. Granted, Weddle’s time is much faster than Johnson’s when you line up their 40 times side-by-side, yet I feel both players work at the same speed between the whistle. Weddle has carved out a 13-year career in which a couple teams felt that he was either too slow or over the hill to be brought back on with a new deal. Each year, the NFL vet applies his knowledge to put himself in the most favorable position to make a play on the ball. As Johnson adapts to the nuances of the pro game, the studious Hurricane should ascend to become a savvy vet in short order.

State of the U would like to congratulate Jaquan Johnson on his accomplishments at Miami and his future endeavors in the NFL.