Trumaine Johnson has easily become one of the most successful picks of the Jeff Fisher regime outside of the firsty round. With the exception of make or break year Greg Robinson, the Rams have seemingly hit on every first-round pick since the Les Snead and Fisher arrival. The same kind of success has been somewhat, elusive, when drafting in the other rounds.
Johnson was a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He eventually took over the starting role from Cortland Finnegan in his second season and really never looked back from that point. Since then, Johnson has amassed 206 tackles and 15 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns). More impressively, this was done even after missing nine games in 2014 due to an MCL injury.
His interception total ranks in the top eight during that span for his position. Yet, somehow and some way, he is still not respected to the degree one would expect with this type of production. Coming off of a season with seven interceptions and the second-lowest QBR allowed in the NFL, Johnson wasn't even selected to be a alternate for the Pro Bowl -- which is voted on by coaches -- yet alone playing in the actual game.
Johnson didn't even receive recognition from his peers -- the guys he played against week to week -- with their players-only vote of the NFL Network's top 100 players in the NFL from the last season entering the new season.
It appears that no matter how well he plays, as long as the Rams are a losing team, he will continue to be overlooked like a few other Rams (obviously excluding freaks like DT Aaron Donald and RB Todd Gurley). Even DE Robert Quinn became an afterthought after missing half of the season with numerous injuries, when players like RB Adrian Peterson and QB Peyton Manning were still recognized after missing full seasons.
If ever there was a time for the Rams to employ more shadow coverage this would be it. Johnson may not be feared to the level that his name immediately pops in mind when players are asked to name a group of corners they don't want to face, but his play says he should be in that thought. Quarterbacks are less likely to shy away from his coverage the same way they would against Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman, Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson or New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis. With his playmaking ability, plus a healthy Quinn returning to help Donald apply consistent pass pressure, it's very possible seven interceptions can be duplicated or even exceeded. If E.J. Gaines can just return to rookie form at the very least, look for Johnson to have a big-time season in a big-time market...
The Rams did not pay him just yet deciding to tag him instead. He played for a new contract last year and did not get it. Now, he finds himself in the same situation a year later. How will he fare?
Trumaine Johnson 2016 Stat Projection
- 83 tackles
- 8 interceptions
- 2 forced fumbles
- 17 deflections
- 1 touchdown
- First Pro Bowl