Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson (River Hill) joins Texans as 16th overall pick

Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson (River Hill) joins Texans as 16th overall pick
(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

Kevin Johnson was only 5 feet tall and weighed just 96 pounds as a freshman at River Hill. Then he hit a late growth spurt as a senior and enrolled at Wake Forest at 154 pounds.

Now the cornerback has matured into a well-built 6-foot, 188-pound, first-round NFL draft pick.


The Houston Texans drafted Johnson with the 16th overall pick of the first round, a selection that pairs him opposite veteran cornerback Kareem Jackson.

"I feel like I can do it all," Johnson told The Baltimore Sun. "I'm a versatile corner. I can run. I can cover. I love to tackle. I've come a long way as a player. I love the game.

"I"m excited about it. It's just overwhelming right now. I just want to prove I'm a hard-working corner and try to earn respect from the coaches and veterans."

Johnson had a private meeting with Ravens officials and coaches, working out for coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome at their training complex, according to NFL sources.

The workout bolstered the Ravens' high opinion of Johnson, but the team never got close enough to select Johnson.

"This kid can do it all," ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said after the selection. "He has speed. He can cover. He will come up and support the run. He will absolutely stone you. He's going to get better and better."

Johnson was in Chicago on Thursday night, attending the draft along with his family; agent, Greg Barnett; and Ravens wide receiver Michael Campanaro, his best friend and former teammate at Wake Forest and River Hill.

"I'm so happy for Kevin and his family," Campanaro told The Sun after the selection. "He earned this. Texans just got a great player on and off the field."

Johnson visited the Dallas Cowboys and had private workouts for the Browns; who graded him as their top cornerback; Miami Dolphins; San Diego Chargers; Atlanta Falcons; New England Patriots; Arizona Cardinals; and Philadelphia Eagles.

Johnson also had a dinner meeting with Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, player personnel coordinator Dan Rooney Jr. and secondary coach Carnell Lake.

The All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds at the NFL scouting combine with a 41.5-inch vertical leap, a 10-10 broad jump, a 3.89-second short shuttle and a 6.79-second three-cone drill.

Johnson is a four-year starter who never missed a game because of an injury.

Johnson rushed for 1,220 yards and averaged roughly nine yards per carry as a senior with the Hawks and was named an all-star cornerback. Johnson was part of a 40-game winning streak at River Hill that included two Class 2A state championships.

"Great player and even better person," Barnett said. "Love to rep guys like him; awesome family."


Johnson has come a long way since the days when he was undersized even for the high school level to develop into an NFL cornerback.

"Yeah, I'm just fortunate that God has blessed me with the ability," Johnson said. "He put me around good people. I'm just extremely excited."