Another highly regarded cornerback has been linked to the New England Patriots during the leadup to the 2019 NFL Draft.
Kentucky corner Lonnie Johnson traveled to Gillette Stadium on Wednesday for an official pre-draft visit with the Patriots, according to a report from Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
Washington’s Byron Murphy, LSU’s Greedy Williams and Georgia’s DeAndre Baker have generated more chatter during the pre-draft process, but some draft evaluators consider Johnson one of the best cornerback prospects in this year’s class.
NFL Media’s lead draft analyst, Daniel Jeremiah, for instance, has Johnson going 20th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers in his latest mock draft, behind only Williams (No. 14).
“This is higher than I have Johnson rated,” Jeremiah wrote, “but he’s catching a lot of buzz right now, and the Steelers have a need at the position.”
Others aren’t so sure of Johnson’s NFL potential. The 6-foot-2, 213-pounder ranks eighth among cornerbacks in Scouts, Inc.’s pre-draft rankings, 16th on Dane Brugler’s big board at The Athletic and 21st on Pro Football Focus’ draft board.
“Overall, Johnson looks straight out of central casting with his rare combination of physical traits, which will likely get him overdrafted as early as the top-50 picks,” Brugler wrote. “However, he too often looks lost in coverage due to immature awareness and ball skills, projecting as a developmental press-man corner with a long road ahead of him.”
NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein projects Johnson as a second-round pick, writing in his NFL.com draft profile that he’ll need to improve his ball skills and consistency to be a starter at the next level.
Johnson, who broke up five passes and intercepted one as a senior in 2018, ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine (tied for 22nd among corners) with a 4.10-second short shuttle (tied for sixth) and a 7.01-second three-cone drill (13th).
The Patriots, who return their entire cornerback group from the end of last season, also have been connected to Vanderbilt cornerback Joejuan Williams, whom they’ve reportedly worked out twice ahead of next week’s draft. Williams is projected as a Day 2 pick who might sneak into the end of the first round.
Thumbnail photo via Randy Sartin/USA TODAY Sports Images