Why the Slide?: Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana

This series was created a number of years ago in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

During the leadup to an NFL draft, there are prospects who receive a media buzz and end up bestowed with early-round projections. That was the case with Indiana safety Jamar Johnson, as some media members projected him to go late in the first round or on the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft. Those projections were fueled by Johnson’s highly productive 2020 season of 43 tackles, four interceptions, eight passes broken up and a forced fumble. Thus, many in the draft media were surprised when Johnson slid to the fifth round.

Team sources said Johnson’s actual grades were as a mid-rounder, so he really did not slide very far from where teams were projecting him. Some sources thought he had a chance to sneak into the third round, and others had him graded in the fourth round, so falling to the fifth round was not much of a surprise to those around the NFL.

Johnson’s slide was ended by the Denver Broncos, which was a good team for him. The Broncos need a long-term starter to go with Justin Simmons because veteran Kareem Jackson is in the sunset years of his pro career. Johnson and fellow fifth-round pick Caden Sterns can compete to be the starter of the future. Simmons was a third-round pick in 2016, so Johnson landed with a good team that should give him a legit shot at winning the job. Even if Johnson does not become the starter, he is in a good situation to at least be a valuable backup and core special teams contributor.

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