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Johnny Dixon Seeking To Maximize Versatility & Competitiveness In NFL

It’s the end of an era in Happy Valley, as cornerback Johnny Dixon is likely to hear his name called at the 2024 NFL Draft later this month. Dixon was a mainstay on the defense for three seasons.

The Tampa, Florida, native spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons at South Carolina. Dixon only made three tackles and one interception despite appearing in every game during his freshman season. His production rapidly increased in 2020 as he made 34 tackles with five pass breakups and a fumble recovery over 10 appearances and eight starts.

However, Dixon entered the transfer portal on December 23, 2020, and committed to Penn State only five days later.

Dixon entered a crowded position room in 2021 with the likes of veterans Joey Porter Jr. and Tariq Castro-Fields holding the starting jobs down. Despite this, Dixon appeared in every game with 10 tackles and two pass breakups.

With Castro-Fields departing for the NFL in 2022, Dixon claimed the starting job and played in all 13 games. He made 23 tackles, 10 pass breakups, 4.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, and two interceptions en route to being named an honorable All-Big Ten mention by the media following the season.

In 2023, Dixon was even more heavily relied upon as one of the defense’s veterans. He ended up with 26 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, an FBS cornerback-most 4.5 sacks, three pass breakups, an interception, and a pass breakup. He earned third-team All-Big Ten honors from coaches and was named an honorable mention by the media once again after the season.

Dixon emerged from his college career with confidence.

“I always feel like I’m one of the best, and I feel like I’ve proved that within the last year,” Dixon said. “I’m very versatile — whether it’s nickel, corner — if you get me you’re getting everything you’re looking for.”

Dixon, with his total score of 70, ranked No. 24 among cornerbacks at the 2024 NFL Combine. He has an even balance of pros and cons, according to NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein.

Dixon is a “feisty man cover cornerback with above-average competitiveness in coverage but missing some key attributes that might be necessary for true NFL success,” Zierlein wrote. “Dixon gives out bumpy rides against press release and does a nice job of creating coverage leverage with his footwork, but he struggles to get his hips opened when crossed up or when flipping to match a vertical route.”

“He has below-average speed deep but can smother routes with physicality and ball skills when he stays attached,” Zierlein continued. “His technique and effort as a tackler needs to improve. The cover skills are fine, but questionable NFL speed and fluidity could create too many coverage inconsistencies as a pro.”

The 6’0″, 196-pound Dixon is projected to be a sixth-round pick, according to NFLDraftBuzz. There are cornerback-needy teams such as the Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, and Houston Texans with early picks in the round that could end up selecting Dixon.

The NFL Draft will begin with its first round on Thursday, April 25, with the later rounds continuing through April 27. It’ll be televised on ESPN and NFL Network.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a third-year journalism major from Silver Spring, Maryland, which means he's an avid fan of all D.C. sports teams. If Nolan isn't writing about or watching sports, you can probably find him listening to all sorts of music or traveling. To keep up with Nolan, you can follow him on Twitter @nolan_wick or email him at [email protected].

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