You only have one chance to make a first impression, a fact of life that Jadar Johnson is, evidently, keenly aware of. From hauling in an impressive catch accentuated by a standing backflip while a high schooler at Dabo Swinney’s football camp (with the head coach himself watching) to coming up with two critical pass breakups against Auburn in the 2016 season opener, Johnson endeared himself to both the coaching staff and the fanbase from the get-go and should be expected to do the same in the NFL later this year.
Johnson, a 6-0, 210-pound safety from Orangeburg, S.C., made the most of his lone season in the Tigers’ starting lineup as a senior in 2016, serving as a lynchpin of the Clemson secondary. Johnson made the most of every opportunity that he was presented with, establishing himself as a premier playmaker as a backup for three seasons behind several players who went on to the NFL.
As a sophomore, Johnson showcased his athleticism and trademark nose for the ball when taking on SC State by returning a flashy interception to the house for a touchdown. Effectively a wide receiver in the secondary, Johnson boasts incredible hands and frequently made plays on the ball throughout the 2016 slate. Finishing with a team-high five interceptions, Johnson earned a spot on the All-ACC First Team and was selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game.
True to form, Johnson made the most of his opportunity to shine in the national spotlight by consistently showing out for scouts and media members alike in the practices leading up the Shrine Game, leading him to be praised by NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah, who was “impressed with his instincts and quickness.” Johnson sports a remarkable balance of speed and strength that is befitting of an NFL-caliber defensive back.
With coverage skills of a cornerback, as well as the hard-hitting ability of a strong safety, Johnson is a multi-talented defensive back, which should certainly aid his draft stock. Currently rated as a fifth-round prospect by several draft boards, Johnson should be considered a prime candidate as a 2017 NFL Draft sleeper among defensive backfield prospects.
A leader on and off of the field, Johnson’s confidence and consistency were enough to garner a tremendous amount of respect from the Clemson coaching staff during his Tiger tenure, with head coach Dabo Swinney saying, “He’s has been as consistent a player as we’ve had on our team, and we were very hopeful that he’d take that next step. And, boy, did he.”
Johnson was a highly touted prep player while at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, resulting in a top-10 recruit ranking in the state of South Carolina. He left no stone unturned, working relentlessly to make an impact and gain a solid reputation for himself through hard work. Needless to say, that hard work paid off and should pay dividends for years to come.
Jadar Johnson is poised for success at the next level, as his athleticism and wide range of skills appear to be NFL-worthy. A tireless worker who garnered a reputation for being a leading playmaker in the secondary this past season, he sports a game changer’s mentality that has defined his football career thus far and bodes well for what figures to be a promising career at the next level, too.