Cornerback Lonnie Johnson. (Jeff Houchin Photo)
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. didn’t go quite as high as many as UK were hoping but he was still drafted by the Houston Texans in the second round Friday night with the 54th overall selection.
The 6-2, 210-pound Johnson improved his 40-yard dash from 4.52 at the NFL scouting combine to 4.39 seconds at his campus Pro Day but apparently that wasn’t enough to move him back to the first round. At the combine, Johnson bench pressed 225 pounds 15 times and had a 38-inch vertical leap.
He started every game last season, recording 23 tackles, one interception and four pass breakups. For his two-year career at Kentucky, he had 41 tackles, three for losses and five pass breakups.
Here is what the Texans posted on their team website after drafting Johnson — the second UK player picked in the first two rounds as Josh Allen went seventh overall Thursday night.
“Prototypically built press corner with rare height, broad shoulders, long arms and most important, swivel hips, which allow him to change directions and accelerate smoothly in pass coverage. Accurate strike zone when jamming at the line of scrimmage, but isn’t reliant on re-routing receivers, gaining adequate depth in his backpedal, as well as the loose hips to turn and get vertical quickly.
“Good body control to mirror receivers and showed improved route recognition in 2018, undercutting short and intermediate routes to leave quarterbacks little room to operate.
“Aggressive tackler who isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder into an opponent. Good vision, effort and speed in pursuit.
“As one might expect given his abbreviated time at the FBS level, Johnson lacks polish in some areas, grabbing cloth and drawing flags for holding despite being in good position. Questionable ball skills with just one interception (in his final game) among nine pass breakups in the FBS.”