Ronald Johnson makes plays. He is a tremendous athlete, yet raw enough in some areas to develop. His quickness and elusiveness are 2 of his many qualities, as he always found himself behind defenders and found open field. His offense relied on him for big plays and he always came through. As tough as he is speedy, he has no problem going over the middle and absorbing hits. The return game is where his value rises. As a punt returner he is dangerous; oftentimes being one block away from 6 points. He explodes through holes and easily finds open space. Upper body strength and route running are both areas of where he must improve, as he has all the makings of a solid NFL slot receiver.
Excellent speed. His 40 time is not a real indication to his explosiveness, as seen in the return game, where he attacks holes and gets up field quickly. Johnson is more quick than fast, but will pull away from defenders. He is a very efficient runner; using perfect running form to make his speed look effortless. In time, with his tools, he will run a faster 40 yard dash.
As Johnson can easily get separation, his routes can use some work. He tends to slow down before his cuts and even stand up a little. This allows defenders to break earlier and can quickly get into his back pocket, as he gets out of his cuts. His acceleration out of his cuts is very good, but because he draws defenders with his upper body movement prior, it seems like he is not sprinting out of them. Attention to his upper body movement will reveal how great his footwork is, as well.
Although he literally has small hands, his offense looks to them for big plays. Johnson understands proper hand placement and holds on to the ball with his strong hands. Bottom line: USC looked to him for big plays and Ronald Johnson did not disappoint.
After the Catch
Here is where Johnson is really special. Always utilizing his quick steps to elude defenders in then find open field, Johnson is very explosive and productive after the catch. Excellent cuts and quick, precise moves makes him a very dangerous open-field threat.
Johnson’s quickness and hands are his biggest attributes. Overall he is very athletic, as definitely seen in the return game, where he can dart in and out of traffic, elude tacklers and find green. This elite athleticism will aid him when he learns to improve the other parts of his game, such as, getting off the line and coming down with the ball with more consistency. Although his vertical may be average, his ability to make plays has hidden this weakness, but when improved, will add yet another tool to his arsenal.
A definite area of improvement. Johnson’s lack of overall size and upper body strength, doesn’t allow him to routinely stop defenders. Although his hand placement and positioning is satisfactory, he just does not have the strength, and therefore the fight, to battle opponents.
Over the Middle
Another area of strength for Johnson. Very comfortable on slant, hook-in, or just plain in routes, he positions his body for impact and catches the ball. He doesn’t have the biggest, strongest frame, but uses what he has to make plays. This is nothing more that an excellent competitive spirit.
Johnson has had a few injuries during his career. Johnson missed spring practice in 2010 with elbow and wrist injuries. In 2009, he missed the first 5 games of the season with a broken collar bone.
Johnson is a young, raw-in-some-areas receiver that can be taught what his game is missing. His explosion and quickness are both NFL ready, as he has the tools to develop to be a very productive slot receiver and returner on any roster. He has sure 3rd down, or “big play” hands and the quickness to make would-be tacklers miss.
He contributed heavily to a USC offense that averaged over 400 yards per game, while personally ranking 2nd in the Pac-10 in punt return average. He has had an 90 yard punt return for touchdown, along with 20 career receiving TDs. Yet, he was still underused, especially in the vertical game. Johnson’s USC numbers are not an indication of skill and/or potential.
Sociology major at USC.
Awards & Honors
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Prospect Video Clips
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