The San Francisco 49ers fourth-round draft pick was a double major at North Carolina State and is now getting versed in the techniques of several NFL cornerbacks these days. The group includes two of the taller standouts in the league: Champ Bailey and Richard Sherman.
"Those are the big two I've really been looking at for press techniques," San Francisco's 6-foot-2, 200-pound rookie said before the start of a three-day rookie minicamp.
Johnson, however, won't be able to showcase what he's learned until later in the offseason. San Francisco's non-contact rookie camp will prohibit the young cornerback from using his long levers at the line of scrimmage.
"Given the rules, we're really not allowed to press, bump, or do anything like that," Johnson said. "We'll be playing a lot of off-technique, doing a lot of that in this camp. I look forward to it though."
Since joining the 49ers following the NFL Draft, Johnson has been reviewing the press-man techniques with secondary coach Ed Donatell.
"I'm learning from a lot of guys who were here already," Johnson said. "I'm learning from the film they had last year and I'm watching a few other corners across the league, just trying to simulate how they move and see different body languages.
"With my body type being a taller guy, I tend to watch longer guys, pretty much trying to model my game technique-wise."
In addition to the cornerback responsibilities of rookie camp, Johnson will also focus on special teams work. The importance of the third phase of the game is not lost on Johnson, who also played safety in college.
"You have to be great on special teams in order to be successful at this level," Johnson said.
The rookie camp is a great opportunity for Johnson to work on his skills without the veterans taking the bulk of practice reps. And when the experienced players return next week for OTAs, Johnson is eager to compete against San Francisco's top wideouts.
"All those guys on the other side of the ball are great athletes," Johnson said of the 49ers deep receiving corps. "It's going to give me a chance to get better, whether it's (Michael) Crabtree or (rookie)