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2019 Broncos roster review: Cornerback Trey Johnson

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Could Trey Johnson win the bubble war at cornerback?

NCAA Football: Villanova at Pittsburgh
Could Trey make the Broncos?
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In an era where speed kills faster than ever before, athleticism is at the utmost premium in the NFL. At no position is it quite as necessary as defensive back, where down after down a player can be schemed onto an island against some of the fastest athletes the league has ever seen. John Elway doesn’t need to look any further than Kansas City to see how slow corners could leave the Broncos dead in the water in 2019.

This is why Trey Johnson was a savvy gamble in April. After going undrafted out of Villanova he signed as an free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, but wound up on injured reserve after hurting his shoulder in training camp. Following the 2018 season, Pittsburgh moved on, which is why he made it to the Broncos voluntary veteran minicamp. Fangio must have liked what he saw, because he signed shortly thereafter. Given the interest Chicago showed in Johnson last fall, it bodes well for Johnson’s odds of making the roster.

The good

  • 29 passes defensed in career suggests promising ball skills.
  • Corner/Safety experience
  • Willing tackler
  • Was a strong coverage player in college

It’s easy to see why Fangio would be intrigued by Johnson, as he brings a lot of the skills sought after for his system. Johnson has the tools, plays the run, and offers an intriguing amount of versatility. Considering the fact that it’s all but impossible to have too many defensive backs in today’s league, Johnson has a decent shot.

Johnson has exciting ball skills.

The bad

  • Underweight
  • Injury concerns
  • May not have the kind of change of direction skills to trust in tight coverage
  • Drag down tackler, not a punisher.

The biggest concerns over Johnson long term come with his frame and the punishment he’ll take at the NFL level. He missed the 2014 season with an injury and all of his rookie year because of the shoulder. Combine that with a light frame and the thought of him having to take on some of the bigger receivers, tight ends, or backs in the league is a question. Beyond that, a 4.20 Short Shuttle is right around the 25th percentile for baseline NFL measurables. So while the 2nd year pro is fast in a straight line, his ability to adjust and keep up with route runners is a concern.

Trey Johnson’s roster status with the Broncos

In my initial 53 I predicted Johnson would find a way to make the Broncos roster. It does all depend on if Elway and Fangio keep 6 corners. Chris Harris, Isaac Yiadom and Bryce Callahan are locks and Kareem Jackson’s versatility makes him a bit of a wildcard. De’Vante Bausby leads the pack of the second tier guys so it comes down to a number squeeze. At present I still have him as my favorite between Horace Richardson, Linden Stephens, and Alijah Holder at the back end of the roster. What helps Johnson’s cause is the fact that of those last 4 guys, he seems least likely to make it through waivers.

Johnson is one of the intriguing bubble guys the Fangio Broncos have brought in.