After addressing the need for an offensive lineman in Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans followed up in Round 2 by addressing their next most significant need with the selection of cornerback Lonnie “Lotto” Johnson Jr. out of the University of Kentucky. Johnson enters a Houston Texans secondary that has received a considerable facelift over the past few seasons, especially this past offseason with the departure of safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson and the additions of cornerback Bradley Roby and safety Tashaun Gipson. With the selection of Johnson, it is evident that he is the next step in the Texans attempt to add more defensive backs who fit Brian Gaine and the Houston Texan’s standards at the position.
Johnson easily surpasses the physical standards that Gaine and company hold in cornerbacks. Measuring in at 6’2”, 213 lbs. while also running an official 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and an unofficial 4.39 at his Pro Day, Johnson fits the prototypical mold of today’s NFL cornerback. Not only checking off the boxes in terms of his physical traits and ability to play man and press coverage, but Johnson also believes he can contribute at multiple positions if need be.
“I feel like I can play safety, corner, and nickel,” said Johnson at this past year’s NFL Combine. “I’m versatile. I can play any one, for real.”
Versatility is a trait that the Texans have valued highly over the years, whether it be a star player like Jadeveon Clowney playing outside linebacker and defensive end, or a role player such as Joe Webb having the ability to play quarterback, wide receiver, and even special teams. With that in mind, it makes even more sense why the Texans chose to select Johnson.
On top of his versatility, Johnson is confident in his abilities as a cornerback. Being compared to the likes of All-Pro corners such as Jalen Ramsey and Patrick Peterson, Johnson knows what he brings to the table and that there is still room to improve.
“I don’t mind being compared to two of the greats that play in the NFL right now,” Johnson responded when being compared to the two. “…I’m smooth, I can move my feet, and I’m not slow… I’ve only been playing corner for like two-and-a-half years. I’ve been playing receiver my whole life, so it’s different.”