What to know about Anthony Johnson Jr., Iowa State safety and Green Bay Packers seventh-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft

Tom Dombeck
Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter
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GREEN BAY − With the 242nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers took Iowa State safety Anthony Johnson Jr. in the seventh round.

It was the second defensive back, and first safety, the Packers took in the draft.

Iowa State safety Anthony Johnson Jr. tackles an Oklahoma State player.

Anthony Johnson Jr. to provide depth at safety

PackersNews.com analysis: Safety was a position of need, along with wide receiver and tight end, for the Packers coming into the draft, but the team didn't address it until the seventh round in Johnson Jr. It wasn't a strong draft for safeties, so Green Bay made a decision to prioritize other areas that had deeper classes.

Height, weight, other measurables

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 205 pounds

Hand size: 8 3/4 inches

Arm length: 31 1/4 inches

Anthony Johnson Jr. Iowa State highlights

  • Started 12 games in 2022
  • Made 60 tackles, two interceptions and four pass breakups
  • Named second-team all-Big 12

Anthony Johnson Jr. on the Packers

Johnson Jr. met the local media via conference call on Saturday. Here are some highlights.

On switching to safety: "We came down to our last game of 2021 and I actually thought I was gonna leave. I was gonna try to go to the NFL as a corner ... and I talked to my head coach Matt Campbell and he was like 'hey man, I think you're gonna play safety in the NFL. I've talked to scouts and that's what they think, so I want you to come back and play safety for us' ... and the transition was actually easier than most people think ... understanding I was further off the ball so I could be patient. And one of the bonuses I got was I could see the whole field ... I always wanted to play quarterback (making calls on defense) and I never got that opportunity until this past season."

Skills that transfer from corner to safety: "You think about safeties, you don't think about them covering, but that's what I bring (from corner) ... I play with that aggression ... and at the safety position, you've got to be a smart guy ... that's something I've been challenged with at Iowa State ... and I was doing it at boundary corner ... so at safety I took that responsibility to make sure everybody was alright."

On where he sees himself fitting in: "I do not have an idea just yet. When I had a Zoom call with coach, we talked a lot about the coverages and checks, we talked a lot about the nickel position."   

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein’s take on Anthony Johnson Jr.

"Cornerback turned safety with good athletic traits for the safety position and rare physicality from a former cornerback. Johnson has grown into a safety’s frame but is versatile enough to play near the line of scrimmage or line up over the slot. He moves fluidly with good play speed but is still processing angles and coverage responsibilities at his new position. He will come downhill and hit anything near the line of scrimmage with everything he’s got, but he needs to learn to control his aggression to become a more consistent tackler. Johnson’s traits, versatility and toughness give him a chance to become a starting safety or nickel safety."

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