Houston Texans Rookie Spotlight: Kevin Johnson


The Houston Texans’ defense was one of the strong points of the 2014 team and looks to be even better this year. Houston boasted a top ten run defense last year but ranked in the bottom third of the league in passing yards allowed, which is an area they will need to improve if they want to return to the playoffs.

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One player they hope will help improve the pass defense is rookie cornerback Kevin Johnson. Houston drafted Johnson with the 16th pick in the first round of the draft. As the NFL continues to become more of a passing league, cornerback has become one of the most important positions, up there with quarterback and offensive tackle.

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It could be argued that playing defensive back has never been tougher than it is in today’s NFL. Not only do players have to deal with exceptional quarterbacks and receivers, they also have to deal with a new emphasis on pass interference, defensive holding, and illegal contact penalties.

One of the strongest points of Johnson’s game is his coverage ability. As Ian Wharton points out in his 2015 NFL Draft preview back in March, Johnson clearly establishes intent to play the ball when defending a pass and has excellent balance skills which allows him to essentially mirror the route of the receiver.

Over at Battle Red Blog, Brett Kollmann writes that Johnson is “an explosive athlete over short areas with fluid hips, lightning quick feet, and an aggressive mentality to get after the ball.” This should help Johnson with receivers like T.Y. Hilton who destroyed Houston in 2014 (Hilton had 13 catches for 273 yards and one touchdown in two games last season, including a ridiculous 9 catch, 223 yard performance in Week 6).

As it currently stands, Johnson likely enters training camp as the third cornerback on the depth chart, behind Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson. With defenses playing in sub packages more frequently, Jackson will likely receive a large number of snaps if he can prove that he belongs on the field. If Johnson develops quickly, he will give Romeo Crennel plenty of options in the secondary, which should make the Texans’ defense even stronger in 2015.

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