CLEMSON—Wes Welker, Adam Vinatieri, James Harrison, Rod Smith, Antonio Gates, Tony Romo, Warren Moon, Kurt Warner and Jadar Johnson?
Surely a first-year, undrafted free agent does not deserve a place among the list of Super Bowl winners, Pro Bowl participants, NFL MVP’s and Hall of Famers—or does he.
The above NFL greats are not only known for their accomplishments on the field, but they, like Johnson, were all undrafted.
Now it is up to Johnson to show that he has what it takes to put his name among the other greats whose name was not called during the draft.
“It is what it is. I mean, you look at the list of guys that never heard their name called and you see what they’ve done and it is encouraging,” Johnson said. “But at the same time, you know that you’ve got to work that much harder to show that team that you deserve your spot.”
That team that he is trying to earn a spot with is the New York Giants, joining fellow Tiger teammates Wayne Gallman and B.J. Goodson.
But even though he will be joining with familiar faces in ‘The City that Never Sleeps’, he understands that he is there to prove to his coaches that they made the right decision in signing him and to prove to the other 31 teams that they made a mistake in not calling him.
“It is going to be great to get up there and see Wayne and B.J., but at the end of the day I am up there to earn a spot on the team,” Johnson said. “So, whatever I have to do to show the coaches that I am the right player—I’m going to do it.
Even though the Giants are getting a ball-hawk of a safety, who finished his senior season with a team-high five interceptions and nine career interceptions, one of the things that Johnson is going to have to show the coaches is a willingness to help in run support.
According to Pro Football Focus was the primary area of concern with Johnson entering the draft and was, more likely than not, a reason for his dropping out of the draft.
“Johnson’s ability to stay in the league looks like it will come down to if he has the athletic ability to be a full-time free safety,” The PFF Analysis Team wrote. “His inability or unwillingness, at the very least, to play the run around will pigeonhole him into a FS role. His ball skills are good, but he’s inconsistent with his angles and footwork. Because of his poor tackling he’s unlikely to be a consistent contributor on special teams.”
However, Johnson is not letting the negatives get him down, because he is in the league with the same chance as everyone else to make the team and to make a name for himself—which is exactly what he aims to do.
“Those are people that have never seen me play—all they have done is watch some film,” Johnson said. “But I can you what, when I get my chance they are going to see that they don’t know me or what I am capable of.
“I have played with the same chip on my shoulder my whole life, and that’s not going to change now. Whether I was in high school at O-W or up at Clemson or now in the NFL, I have always had people say that I was too slow or not tall enough or not good enough and all I have done is prove them wrong. So, that’s what I’m going to do now—prove them wrong.”