Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Will 2014 Be The Year For Matt Johnson?


Drafted in the fourth round out of Eastern Washington University in the 2012 NFL Draft, Matt Johnson has failed to see a regular season snap in his two-year career. Even though Johnson hasn’t played in an NFL game, the Dallas Cowboys have high hopes for this free safety. After he was drafted in 2012, Johnson had to skip OTA’s because he had to finish classes in college. After Johnson finished those classes, he then had a hamstring that ultimately kept him out of the entire regular season.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013, Jason Garrett expressed his interest in Johnson to become the starting free safety. The interesting thing was that the Cowboys drafted J.J. Wilcox out of Georgia Southern in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Things started out well in the Hall of Fame game against the Miami Dolphins, but Johnson left the game after he suffered a sprained left foot. That foot injury kept him out for the entire 2013 season. All in all, Johnson has only played in two preseason games with the Cowboys.

Regardless of all his injuries, Johnson has the chance to be the starting free safety in 2014 opposite of strong safety Barry Church. At Eastern Washington, Johnson had 15 interceptions and five forced fumbles. Garrett believed Johnson could have a big impact on special teams too. He may have been a reach in the fourth round, but Jerry Jones and co. really liked this guy.

Per Jonathan Bales:

Johnson: 6-1, 215 pounds, 4.52 40-yard dash, 10-1 broad jump, 4.07 short shuttle, 6.84 three-cone drill, 38-inch vertical, 18 reps

Player X: 6-0, 214 pounds, 4.63 40-yard dash, 10-1 broad jump, 4.06 short shuttle, 6.78 three-cone drill, 38-inch vertical, 15 reps

These two players are awfully similar in terms of their measurements. It turns out that player x is Kenny Vaccaro of the New Orleans Saints. The Cowboys really liked Vaccaro before the 2013 NFL Draft. He was viewed as the nation’s best safety, and it’s pretty funny how similar Vaccaro and Johnson are. While many Cowboy fans ridicule Johnson and his inability to stay healthy, the Eastern Washington product has an opportunity to be the starting free safety on this team.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Barry Church Dallas Cowboys J.J. Wilcox Matt Johnson

  • SmartThinking

    If Johnson can’t suit up and play this season, then he needs to go.

    • Ryan Ratty

      No doubt! Thanks for reading!

  • David

    Ryan,

    No offense but you cant even compare these two players. Johnson has shown nothing and played in two pre season games. He played at a small school and who knows if he can actually play in a real game. Not to mention he has a serious injury history right now. And player X was a legit 1st round draft pick from a legit program who was having a very good year until he got hurt in December. He made the all rookie team as one of the best safeties. So there is no way to even compare these two..

    • Ryan Ratty

      I definitely agree with you, David. I’m just pointing out that the two have similar measurables. Johnson needs to prove that he is the real deal before we label him the next Darren Woodson.

      • David

        I think he needs to prove he is Heath first lol…

  • Old Frog

    It’s not just Johnson but it seems Dallas has really bad luck with injured players who are really supposed to do something but can’t stay healthy: Claiborne, Johnson, Lee, Crawford are still on the team and need to stay healthy or make room for someone who can.

    • Ryan Ratty

      It’s just unlucky to be honest. Let’s hope for better this season! Thanks for reading!

    • truthhurts

      When you draft injury prone players that get injured it’s not “just bad luck”

  • Chad

    To keep him around for this long after the injuries, he must look like the second coming of Ed Reed on the practice field. Then again…..I remember hearing the same thing about Martellus Bennett.

    • Ryan Ratty

      Hahaha. Good point, Chad. There is reason to like Johnson because of his play-making ability. I’m not sure if it’s on the level of Ed Reed though. Thanks for reading!

  • Alex Darden

    Absolutely hilarious to me how this guy can look good in shorts but hasn’t even been able to put enough tape out there to really grade him and he has had multiple articles wrote about him and his potential in the last couple years. Meanwhile Wilcox is actually out there playing and playing well before injuries yet you rarely read anything about his potential or future. Bet they change their tune when you throwing that X up all year! Keep workin JJ!!!

    • Ryan Ratty

      Agreed, Alex. Thanks for reading!

  • Sergio Surroco

    Matt just may be the answer but only if a front 7 can be dominant

  • ctcowboy1968

    As they say in Missouri, show me. My high school coach would say that potential is meaningless, it’s all about performance. That’s not 100% correct, but at some point Matt has to make it thru a practice without getting hurt. If (that’s a huge if), he makes the team, we have to keep an extra S since he is a huge injury risk.

  • CowboysWin

    I heard that when Matt Johnson hits you, even your friends get bloody noses. He must be special since he is taking a roster spot for 2 years to hold a pom pom. Combine comparisons show nothing about instincts – tons of great players who would be all pros except for one little detail – they have to actually play a real game- and that’s when their status declines – rapidly.