Grading The Dallas Cowboys Safety, Matt Johnson

1 of 3

I have been doing a series on grading the Cowboys 2012 NFL draft. I received a reader question that is a perfect fit for the compensatory round 4 pick, so I will be using that this time. In my previous articles I touched on rounds 1,3 and 4 as well as some of the undrafted guys. You can see all of the previous articles here. I would like to thank Bryan Broaddus from who has agreed to contribute to some of my articles. We may not always agree, but it’s always good to have input from different sources on the different players, as it gives the reader a different perspective.

Steve in San Antonio wrote:

"“Last year you wrote and talked a lot about that safety Andrew Sendejo. What ever happened to him and how do you think Matt Johnson compares to him? From what I saw, that Sendejo kid seemed like a solid player.”"

Round 4 pick 40 (Compensatory pick)

Matt Johnson, S E. Washington

6-1 212

Grade entering draft: 49.2

My Grade: Player potential/impact: C- Draft Value: D

Once again I was perplexed by this pick. Johnson was the 16th ranked S in the 2012 NFL draft and many projected him to go undrafted. He wasn’t invited to the combine, and it was hard finding much of anything on him at all. Johnson ran a 4.54 40 yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times at his pro day. That is a decent performance for a defensive back. Johnson is quick to diagnose plays and reacts well instinctively. He plays physical to the whistle and wraps up cleanly. He’s at his best playing downhill which likely limits him to the strong safety position.

When in man to man coverage, he lacks the footwork to keep up with precise route runners. His feet will get tangled and he’ll fall back on his speed to make up for it. Johnson has the potential to improve his coverage skills and possibly move to free safety later in his career. For now though, he’ll be competing with multiple safeties to earn a roster spot in 2012.

I see him as more than likely a career special teams guy at best. It is obvious the Cowboys already have doubts about him, as they are continuing the search for a safety. When I watch him play, he looks like a hard hitting physical safety. My concern is, that in the BSC he was playing against smaller, weaker, slower and less physical players than what he will be facing in the NFL. We will have to wait and see how he translates at the next level. I see upside, but I feel the 4th round was way to early to draft him.

 Strengths: Plays with a linebacker mentality and toughness. Takes sharp angles to the play and stays smart. Strong football intangibles with leadership qualities and top work ethic. Good straight-line speed and plays decisive. Opportunistic with good ballskills, doing a nice job tracking and attacking. Arrives to the ballcarrier with bad intentions and looks to separate ball from player. Good experience as a four-year starter and team captain

Weaknesses: Plays tight-hipped and struggles to turn and run downfield. Needs to do a better job breaking down in space, has some bad tackling habits. Lacks quick change of direction skills to recover after false steps. Tends to get too physical in coverage. Some durability concerns after missing season-ending shoulder injury last year. Played at the FCS-level and will have to adjust to the jump in play-speed in the NFL. –Dane Brugler

Bryan Broaddus: Matt Johnson is a much better player than Sendejo. Johnson is a good tackler, he is physical and he can cover. He has more of a chance to be a free safety with some strong safety traits.

My story is continued on the next page….