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Houston Texans had eye on Lonnie Johnson long before draft night

Cornerback Lonnie Johnson (6). (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

I’m not sure how many people believed going into the 2018 season that Kentucky senior cornerback Lonnie Johnson had a chance to become a high NFL draft pick.

No doubt Johnson did because he always had confidence in his ability. But many considered him UK’s fourth, or maybe fifth, best defensive back going into the 2018 season.

Yet when the NFL draft rolled around last week, Johnson not only was the first UK defensive back picked but he went in the second round to Houston with the 54th overall pick.

“Lonnie Johnson, a player we’ve obviously studied through the fall,” general manager Brian Gaine said. “Outside cornerback with excellent height, weight, speed. Six-foot-one and change, 210 pounds, 4.40 (40-yard dash), played very well in the Senior Bowl and matched up versus some very good competition. Played very well in the (Citrus) Bowl game.

“Very aggressive in run support. He can play perimeter press coverage, can play man coverage. We’re excited to have him.”

Houston met with the Johnson several times during the evaluation process, at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, the NFL Scouting Combine and even during a workout at Kentucky. The more the Texans talked to him, the more they liked him.

“Throughout this entire draft process, I felt like Johnson was destined to be a Texan,” Texans football analyst and sideline reporter John Harris said. “Long, strong and tough as nails, Johnson stared down a tremendous amount of adversity in his life to get to the NFL.

“He threw a blanket over receivers at the Senior Bowl to cap his career and that helped lock him into the second round.”

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