No Jacksonville Jaguars rookie made an appearance on NFL Media's All-Offense team but defensive back Antonio Johnson represented them on their All-Defense counterpart. Chad Reuter was responsible for putting both teams together and while it was a bit surprising not to see offensive tackle Anton Harrison or running back Tank Bigsby make the cut, Johnson was a solid pick.
The East St. Louis, Illinois native played different positions in college but is currently listed as safety on the Jaguars' depth chart. However, his ability to line up in the slot could help him earn significant playing time as a rookie. Here's what Reuter had to say about Johnson.
"Despite being a Day 3 selection, Johnson could make his mark as a box safety in Year 1, locking down receivers and negating outside runs. He jumps underneath routes when quarterbacks aren't disciplined with their eyes and makes plays in the backfield when given the green light. "
All things considered, it was a bit odd to see Johnson slide to Round 5, especially when you take into account that he was projected to go in either the first or second round. Then again, the Jaguars are surely glad he was available on Day 3 of the draft.
As Reuter noted, Day 3 picks aren't often expected to make an impact right off the bat. However, Johnson could see the field on designed packages early on and progressively earn a bigger role on defense. Either way, there aren't many glaring weaknesses in his games and those he has can be corrected with coaching. Here's an exchange the former Texas A&M standout had about his skillset with Jamal St. Cyr of News4Jax.
What should the Jaguars expect from Antonio Johnson in Year 1?
Even though head coach Doug Pederson said after the draft that the team expected Johnson to lineup at safety, he's gotten reps in the slot during offseason workouts. Working in his favor is that he won't have to carry the weight of expectations on his shoulders. He will have the chance to develop during his rookie season and won't see the field unless he's ready.
It's hard to know how much time Johnson will need to adjust to the pros but if he can showcase the talent that made him a star on the Auggies defense, the Jaguars' coaching staff will increase his reps in training camp. For the sake of argument, let's say he earns the nickel job in training camp. The Jags often used three cornerbacks last year, so Johnson would then have a heavy workload from the get-go.
Last year, they stuck with Darious Williams in the slot even though he played much better once he moved to the boundaries. With Johnson and Herndon in the mix, the coaching staff can keep Williams in the perimeter. Speaking of Herndon, he gave up a 71.1 completion percent rate when targeted and 14.8 yards per reception, so the Jags will most likely role with Johnson if he shows promise early in training camp.
In the end, Johnson will be given a chance to earn a role early on and if he can quickly make the transition to the NFL, what was a weakness for the Jacksonville Jaguars throughout most of the offseason could turn out to be a strength in 2023.