The 2019 NFL Draft will be a great event for teams to start building for their future. The Game Haus will be doing scouting reports on some of the top prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. Florida safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is the latest great safety out of the school to be in the NFL Draft.
2018 stats: 71 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, four interceptions, two passes defended, two touchdowns
Size: 5-foot-11, 210 pounds
Gardner-Johnson was one of the top safeties in college football heading into the season and played well again as a junior. Through his play, Gardner-Johnson has maintained his draft stock and will likely be one of the first safeties off the board.
He decided to stay in-state for college after being an Under Armour All-American in high school. Gardner-Johnson played in all of Florida’s games as a freshman and even cracked the starting lineup for the last three games of the season. He entered his sophomore season with high expectations and delivered with 58 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defended. Gardner-Johnson was a star as a junior with 71 tackles, four interceptions and two touchdowns. In his freshman season the team won nine games, but then only won four in 2017. He was a big reason the Gators were able to rebound to a 10-3 record and a Peach Bowl win this past season.
With the safety class not having a player who sticks out above the rest, Gardner-Johnson has positioned himself to be in the running to be the first one selected. He could go at the end of round one, but more likely will be a day two selection in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Gardner-Johnson has tremendous range, which allows him to make plays. He has good speed and can weave through defenders to make a tackle when going up against the run. Against the pass, he has great closing speed and can make plays that are a lot of times out of reach for other safeties.
Man to man coverage won’t be an issue for Gardner-Johnson, as he was asked to do a lot of it at Florida. This allowed him to play both slot corner and safety, which is something he may do in the NFL. He has good technique and mirrors receivers well. Gardner-Johnson should be able to guard multiple positions including slot receivers, outside receivers and tight ends.
His ball skills are also really good. Gardner-Johnson’s range helps him with this, as he can close-in on plays quickly. He can swat the ball down if he isn’t in position to pick the ball off, but if he has a chance to get the interception, he usually comes down with it. Once he has the ball in his hands he is a threat to take it back for a touchdown.
Like other top safeties in the draft class, Gardner-Johnson is inconsistent. Even his strengths are something that sometimes come and go for Gardner-Johnson. He was much better as a senior than a junior, so he’ll need to keep it going in the NFL.
He was much improved as a senior, but Gardner-Johnson isn’t the greatest tackler. His tackling issues aren’t always from a lack of effort either, as he routinely came up with big plays against the run as a senior. He needs to wrap up and use his strength to bring ball carriers to the ground instead of arm-tackling.
Gardner-Johnson was asked to play a lot of man to man, so he doesn’t have as much experience in deep zones as other safeties. He still got some experience with it so he should be fine. His skills and physical traits should allow him to be successful at covering a deep zone, but he’ll have to prove it on a consistent basis.
Projected Draft Range: First round-Third round