By Brandon Niles, Explorebigsky.com Sports Writer

Former University of Montana Grizzly cornerback
Trumaine Johnson will begin his NFL career as a
St. Louis Ram. The four-year starter who finished
his Montana career with 15 interceptions and 36
pass deflections (a Montana record) was taken in
the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, on April
27.

Johnson has been called arguably one of the best
prospects to come out of the Big Sky Conference.
His 6-foot-2 frame and excellent length made
him an outstanding cornerback during his time at
Montana. If not for some eligibility issues and an
October arrest at a late night party, it’s possible he
would’ve been selected higher in the draft.

With the exception of the arrest,
Johnson is coming off a superb
senior season at Montana. Chosen
to the 2011 Preseason All-Big
Sky Conference Team in August,
Johnson didn’t disappoint. He finished
with a
selection on
the 2011 AP
FCS All-
American
First Team.
While he
finished the
season with
only two interceptions,
this was largely because opposing
quarterbacks often elected not to
throw in his direction, as he was a dominant force
on the Montana defense. His size and coverage
ability catapulted him up draft boards and gave
him national attention among NFL scouts.
Leading up to the draft, teams such as the Atlanta
Falcons and Miami Dolphins were both interested
in Johnson. The Falcons, who also have former
Grizzly standout defensive end Kroy Biermann
on their roster, were thought to be most likely to
draft Johnson to upgrade their defensive backfield.

However, a pre-draft trade with the Eagles for veteran
Pro Bowler Asante Samuel meant the Falcons
chose to select an offensive lineman in the second
round. The Rams benefitted by snatching him up
with the second pick in the third round.

Johnson boasts excellent coverage abilities and should
thrive in the NFL. He’s entering a situation where
he’ll immediately be given an opportunity to earn
playing time, and he’ll be
surrounded with players
and coaches that can
teach him how to be a
top-level cornerback in the
league. Veteran Cortland
Finnegan, new to the Rams
after spending his first six
years with the Tennessee
Titans, will start at one
cornerback position, while
Johnson should be given the opportunity to battle it
out for the other starting job with fellow rookie Janoris
Jenkins and fourth year player Bradley Fletcher.

Whether he wins the starting job initially or not,
there’s no reason to think the talented Johnson won’t
be given playing time early in nickel and dime packages.
Johnson is a physical and talented player with
very good coverage skills. He should do well in Rams
head coach Jeff Fischer’s defensive system, which
emphasizes press coverage and physical play. Finnegan
is a similar player in tenacity and he should provide
excellent guidance as a veteran mentor to the rookie
Johnson. Montana fans should be on the lookout in the
coming years, as Johnson has all the talent and ability
to become a top tier player in the NFL.