DraftBrowns.com Editor: Brendan Leister
After the 2012 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns signed Stanford cornerback Johnson Bademosi as an undrafted free agent. During his final college season, Bademosi produced 48 tackles (36 solo), .5 tackles for a loss, seven passes defensed, and two forced fumbles. Although these numbers do not particularly stand out when compared with other senior cornerbacks around the country, Bademosi produced some eye popping numbers during the pre-draft process. After not being invited to the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Bademosi blew scouts away when he ran a 4.39 second forty yard dash, broad jumped 10’5″ and vertical jumped 40″ at Stanford’s Pro Day. These numbers show that Bademosi is a freaky athlete (especially at 6’1″ tall and 201 lbs.) with high upside if developed properly.
Bademosi only appeared on the Browns’ defense in three games during his rookie campaign. He played cornerback and recorded 21 snaps week 11 against Dallas, two snaps week 16 against Denver, and one snap week 17 against Pittsburgh. In the week 11 game against Dallas, Bademosi recorded three tackles and a pass defensed. He was also targeted six times and surrendered three catches.
Bademosi consistently made his presence felt on special teams throughout his rookie season. As a starter and key contributor on the Browns’ kickoff, punt, kickoff return, and punt return units, Bademosi produced 15 tackles (tied for third most amongst 632 special teamers), two assists, and one missed tackle. There were only two games (week seven against Indianapolis and week 17 against Pittsburgh) in which Bademosi did not record a tackle or assist. Bademosi’s performance on special teams earned him Second Team All-Pro recognition from ProFootballFocus.com after the conclusion of the 2012 season.
To be an excellent special teamer, a player must be able to make tackles in space. Johnson Bademosi is incredibly adept at this. He consistently does a good job of taking proper pursuit angles, breaking down, adjusting to the ball carrier, and wrapping up while keeping his legs moving on contact.
Week Six: Cincinnati Bengals
On this kickoff, Bademosi lines up in the R1 position. You can tell that he is R1 based on where he lines up. Players on the kickoff unit are given numbers. The numbers are given based on how close each player is to the sideline. The players closest to the sideline are given the number 1 and the numbers get bigger depending on how close each player is to the kicker. For example, the third player from the sideline on the left side would be L3 and the fourth player from the sideline on the right side would be R4.
Different special teams coaches have different philosophies on these numberings and there is no universal numbering or terminology. I can only go by what I know.
Once the kicker begins his path toward the ball to execute the kickoff, this begins the “All-Out Zone” for the kickoff unit. During this time, the players begin their paths down the field to cover the kick. This is called the All-Out Zone because each player must be up to full speed by the time he crosses the line of scrimmage. However, it is extremely important that the players do not pass the kicker before the ball is kicked. This will result in an offsides penalty. Once the ball is kicked, each player on the unit must stay in their lane and make their way down the field in pursuit of the kickoff returner. Proper spacing between each player on the kickoff unit (around five yards) must be maintained to ensure that no seams are created for the kickoff returner to run through. As R1, Bademosi must make sure that he is the furthest man to the outside throughout the play. He can not allow the returner to get to his outside. If Bademosi does not maintain outside leverage, the returner will have a chance for a long return down the sideline.
As Bademosi continues his path down the field, he has now entered the “Avoid Zone”. This area of the field is called the Avoid Zone because it is imperative that the kickoff unit avoids the blockers as they continue their pursuit of the kickoff returner. If a player gets blocked, he must do his best to defeat the block quickly and get back in his lane as soon as possible.
As Bademosi gets within 10 yards of the kickoff returner, he begins to break down. Players on the kickoff unit must give themselves plenty of time to break down due to the fact that they are running full speed down the field. It is important that they do not run past the returner and take themselves out of the play. With a blocker between Bademosi and the returner, Bademosi must figure out a way to get past the blocker if he wants to make the tackle before the returner crosses the 20-yard line.
Bademosi keeps space between he and the blocker as he flattens his pursuit angle to the returner. By doing this, he is forced to use his agility and flexibility to quickly bend around the block attempt. Bademosi shows incredible athletic ability as he beats the block and begins to close in on the returner.
Bademosi hits the returner at the 13-yard line.
The returner goes down at the 17-yard line for a 23-yard kickoff return.
This time, Bademosi lines up in the R2 position.
As the R2, there is a higher chance that Bademosi will have to face multiple blockers than there was on the previous play. Players on the inside of the kickoff unit are typically bigger, more physical players than the ones on the outside due to the fact that they will be forced to take on more blocks and double teams in the middle of the field.
As Bademosi enters the Avoid Zone and starts to squeeze his lane, a blocker begins to close in on him.
Bademosi engages with the blocker, but the battle only lasts for a moment. Bademosi uses the momentum that he built up from running down the field to push the blocker backwards. This knocks the blocker off balance and allows Bademosi to continue his pursuit of the kickoff returner.
At first, it seems as though the returner is going to run up the middle of the field. However, once he passes the 10-yard line, he decides to run to his left. Bademosi recognizes this and pursues the returner to the outside. While doing this, Bademosi does an excellent job of maintaining outside leverage on the returner.
Once the returner realizes that he has no room to run to the outside (due to Bademosi maintaining outside leverage), he plants his left foot in the ground and tries to cut the run up to the middle of the field. Bademosi plants his right foot in the ground and adjusts his pursuit angle to the inside toward the returner.
The returner does his best to run to Bademosi’s inside and force a missed tackle.
Bademosi wraps up the returner and brings him down at the 18-yard line after a 21-yard return.
The ability to change direction and make a tackle in space that Bademosi displayed on this play was excellent. There are not many players with Bademosi’s size that can move and consistently make tackles in the open field like he can.
Week 13: Oakland Raiders
Bademosi is lined up at L1. His job on this play is the same as it was when he was lined up at R1 except he is on the opposite side of the formation.
Bademosi sprints down the field while staying in his lane. This angle gives an excellent view of the gaps between each of the players on the kickoff unit.
The returner fields the kickoff on Bademosi’s side of the field. As Bademosi makes his way down the field in pursuit of the returner, a blocker gets in front of him.
Bademosi engages with the blocker while reading which direction the returner is running. Bademosi’s height (6’1″ tall) helps him to see over the blocker. A teammate pursues the returner from the inside and the returner begins to run to the outside.
Just as he is coached to do, Bademosi fights the blocker with his inside arm while keeping his outside arm free. As the returner makes his way to the outside, Bademosi disengages from the block and closes in on the returner. He continues to maintain outside leverage.
Bademosi wraps up the returner and the returner eventually goes down at the 18-yard line. The return resulted in a gain of 16 yards.
This play was another example of Bademosi exhibiting excellent tackling ability in the open field. Bademosi’s fundamentals were on display in how he took on the blocker with his inside arm while maintaining outside leverage through the tackle.
Week 11: Dallas Cowboys
This time, the Browns are punting the ball. Bademosi is lined up as the right gunner. Gunners are the players that line up on the outside on punt units. Gunners must sprint down the field as quickly as possible while maintaining outside leverage on the punt returner. There are times when punt return units will put two antigunners across from the gunners in hopes of disallowing the gunners from getting downfield. Gunner can be one of the most difficult and physical jobs in all of football. It takes a special kind of player to be a great gunner.
At the snap of the ball, Bademosi takes his first step to the outside. Based on the fact that the left gunner is cutting to the inside, I am instantly led to believe that the Browns are directional punting to the right. With the ball likely being punted to Bademosi’s side, it is extremely important that he gets downfield in a hurry to try to make a play on the punt returner.
Bademosi has already ran over 15 yards downfield and he is beginning to separate from the antigunner. Bademosi’s 4.39 speed really shows up when he is covering punts.
You can see when comparing this image with the previous image how much separation Bademosi has gained in only 10 yards.
The punt returner prepares to field the punt as Bademosi gets within five yards. As Bademosi gets within this five yard distance of the returner, he begins to break down. Breaking down prior to getting too close to the returner is a must if Bademosi wants to be able to adjust to the returner and change direction in space. Breaking down too late can lead to overrunning the play or even a fair catch interference (15-yard) penalty if the player runs into the returner prior to the returner fielding the punt. Also note that Bademosi is still maintaining outside leverage on the returner. A gunner failing to maintain outside leverage often leads to long returns.
Bademosi gets to within about three yards of the returner at the point that he fields the punt.
When the returner fields the punt, he instantly spins around and runs to the inside. This is caused by Bademosi maintaining outside leverage. Had Bademosi been too far to the inside, a lane would have opened up for the returner to run down the sideline.
A blocker tries to block Bademosi, but he takes too wide of an angle and misses as Bademosi pursues the returner to the inside.
After taking an optimal angle, Bademosi closes in on the returner and grabs ahold of his left leg at the 38-yard line.
The force from Bademosi wrapping up his left leg causes the returner to go down at the 42-yard line for only a 7-yard return.
Week Two: Cincinnati Bengals
On this play, Bademosi lines up as the left gunner. There is again only one antigunner lined up across from him. You can see that the right gunner has two antigunners across from him.
At the snap of the ball, Bademosi steps to the inside and begins to run down the middle of the field. Even though Bademosi is not running on the outside, he is still expected to keep outside leverage on the punt returner. Just like in the above illustration, this looks to be another directional punt to the right.
If you look closely, you can see the amount of separation that Bademosi has gained from the antigunner. Bademosi’s speed is on display once again.
Bademosi is within eight yards of the returner as the returner fields the punt at the 19-yard line. At this point, Bademosi is still running full speed and there are no signs of him slowing down.
Rather than aiming for the returner’s right shoulder and breaking down well before closing in on the returner, Bademosi continues to run full speed. This is a recipe for disaster because the returner has plenty of time to choose which way he wishes to go and adjust to Bademosi’s out of control pursuit. The returner steps to his right in hopes of making Bademosi miss his tackle attempt. Bademosi sticks out his left arm in a desperate attempt to bring the returner down.
Bademosi leaves his feet while reaching out for the returner. He gets a hand on the returner, but it isn’t even enough to knock the returner off balance.
The out of control missed tackle attempt forces Bademosi to fall to the ground a few yards behind the returner. The returner continues to make the Browns’ punt unit look silly as he returns the punt 81 yards for a touchdown.
This was Johnson Bademosi’s only missed tackle of his entire rookie season.
Week Eight: San Diego Chargers
Yet again, Bademosi is lined up as the left gunner on the punt unit.
At the snap of the ball, Bademosi takes a step to the outside and begins to accelerate up the sideline. This looks to be a directional punt to the left based on the right gunner running up the middle of the field.
Unlike in the previous illustrations, Bademosi is unable to gain much separation from the antigunner as he makes his way down the field.
Once Bademosi gets to around the 25-yard line, he begins to track the ball in the air. You can see in this image that Bademosi is looking up in the air in hopes of fielding the punt when it comes back down. The antigunner is being physical with Bademosi in an attempt to disallow him from catching the punt. Bademosi shows excellent balance as he takes the contact while still having the awareness to track the punt in the air. The punt returner runs up the middle of the field and waves for a fair catch in hopes of tricking the punt unit into thinking that he is in position to field the punt.
Once Bademosi gets down inside the five-yard line, he turns his body around and gets himself in position to field the punt. The antigunner stops being so physical because he does not want to make the mistake of touching the ball before Bademosi does. If the antigunner were to touch the ball before Bademosi fields it, that would result in the Browns maintaining possession wherever Bademosi fields it.
While moving backwards and to his left, Bademosi fields the punt at the three-yard line. Even after all that, the play is still not over yet. Bademosi must make sure that he does not lose his balance and fall into the end zone. If he falls into the end zone, the play will result in a touchback and the Chargers will gain 17 yards of field position.
After ensuring that he has secured possession of the punt, Bademosi falls back a step, but keeps his balance at the one-yard line. This means that the Chargers will start their next possession at the three-yard line.
All in all, Johnson Bademosi is a very gifted football player with extremely high upside. It is evident when watching Bademosi’s special teams contributions that he has lots of talent and he could certainly bring some value at the free safety position in the Browns’ new defense. Bademosi is a much better fit at safety than at cornerback in my opinion so it was a smart move by the team’s new coaching staff to try him at a new position.
In my last Browns Film Room piece, I took a look at Bademosi’s competition at the free safety position; Tashaun Gipson. Although I would say that Bademosi is the more talented football player, Gipson has experience at the position on his side so it is hard to tell which player will win the job. At this point, I am not sure which player will be the Browns’ starting free safety when week one rolls around, but I do know that it will a fun battle to watch throughout training camp and the preseason.