Chauncey Gardner-Johnson Scouting Report

Name: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
School: Florida
Position: Free Safety
Number: #23

Year: Junior

Height: 5’11”
Weight: 210 lbs
Arms: 30 7/8″
Hands: 9 1/4″

2018 stats:

GamesTacklesSacksInterceptionsPasses DeflectedTouchdowns
13713.0422

NFL Combine:

40-yard DashBench PressVertical JumpBroad Jump
4.48 seconds17 reps36.0 inches117.0 inches

Strengths

Versatility
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is an elite jack of all trades-type player, much like the top defensive back in last year’s draft, Minkah Fitzpatrick. Florida kept him busy, playing him all around the secondary throughout his three years, although he was primarily utilized in the nickel for most of 2018. He’s big, rangy, and instinctual, which allows him to be a high-level player no matter which area of the field he is designated to cover.

Athleticism
Gardner-Johnson has all the measurables to succeed as a true NFL corner or safety. He’s a mismatch against smaller receivers in the slot and big enough to cover the opposing team’s largest targets. He’s also an absolute monster covering the flats. If he runs in 4.40s during his 40-yard dash attempts at the NFL Combine, scouts will take notice. UPDATE: he did.

Ball Skills
Out of all the game I watched, Gardner-Johnson’s ball skills jumped off the tape. Playing in the nickel for almost all of 2018 allowed these traits to flourish, most notably in the Peach Bowl against Michigan, his final game as a Gator in which the junior recorded two picks and returned one for a touchdown.

Competitiveness
Possibly the biggest motor among the defensive backs in his class. One of the best things about watching Gardner-Johnson in 2018 was him barking orders to the rest of the secondary from the slot. He’s a true leader and understands the importance of communication, both to his defense and the receiever’s head he is trying to get into.

Weaknesses

Tackling
When analyzing his 2017 film, Gardner-Johnson’s tackling was a bit painful to watch. Over-aggressiveness resulted in missed tackles, which was most prevalent in a loss to South Carolina that year. Luckily, all bad habits showed signs of major improvement during his junior year. While he still tended to over-pursue at times, his tackling became much more sound maintaining desired aggressiveness.

Defining Adjective: Versatile

Pro Comparison: LaMarcus Joyner

Summary

There’s no hiding it…CG-J is one of my favorite prospects in the draft because of the versatility he offers playing the defensive back position. His utilization strongly resembles Minkah Fitzpatrick’s employment under Nick Saban at Alabama, which involved combining elite instinctual skills, fluidity, and ball skills in order to cause disarray to the opposing team’s aerial attack. The prior issue with tackling will worry some, but Gardner-Johnson’s excellent NFL Combine performance only continues to help his rapidly-rising draft stock. No matter which team selects him, his unique talents should be eagerly welcomed. I’d bet on him being a first-round pick in April.

Draft Projection: Round 1

Cole Topham is the lead editor for snacktimefantasy.com and covers the MLB and NFL. He enjoys watching his opponents suffer as he defeats them week after week in his fantasy football/baseball leagues. 

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