The San Francisco 49ers arguably had the NFL‘s best draft haul this season as the team was able to fill needs while also filling out their roster with the BPA (Best Player Available) mentality during each round. San Francisco was able to find what Sun Sentinel‘s Omar Kelly believes is one of the draft’s most underrated players in DB Dontae Johnson during round four of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound corner, was one of NC State‘s more versatile defensive players last season playing both safety and corner for much of the season. Johnson has the ability to play both at the next level, and it truly remains to be seen where exactly San Francisco will play the talented DB.
San Francisco has shown a liking for versatile defensive backs as they also spent their first-round selection on S Jimmie Ward, who many believe will open the season as the team’s nickel corner.
As for Johnson, it’s too tough to pinpoint where exactly he should be played. He has the length you want in a defensive back to go along with the athleticism required in the modern pass oriented NFL. He understands the concepts of zone coverage and plays well in that defensive style. His ability to read and react is quite good, and he has the ability to play corner, safety, nickel and contribute on special teams as a return man or a gunner.
He does need to bulk up just a bit more to fill out his lean frame and should work to get a bit stronger as I am afraid bigger possession NFL receivers may eat him up at the next level. He also needs to become a much better tackler overall. He does work to get in front of oncoming ball carriers, but he lacks the aggression and leg drive to tackle in a sound fashion. As mentioned, he needs to work on getting stronger to help in this area, as well as working on his technique as a tackler.
Look for Johnson to compete with veterans Eric Wright, Tramaine Brock and Chris Cook along with fellow rookie Keith Reaser for playing time this season. Johnson should work into the mix at some point this season, but the majority of his impact will likely be felt on special teams while he works to get stronger and much bigger.