Jaylon Johnson was in sixth grade when the Atlanta Falcons made Julio Jones the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
On Sunday, the rookie cornerback is likely to meet the seven-time Pro Bowler as a peer. For Johnson, it will be the next step in establishing himself as a professional.
Johnson was thrown into the deep end when he started the Week 1 matchup against the Detroit Lions without the benefit of full participation in training camp.
Now, he sees an opportunity in his matchup against the Falcons' established passing attack.
"Just being able to match up against arguably one of the best receivers of this generation," said Johnson. "I mean, being able to line up against him, and then Calvin Ridley is an upcoming star as well. Just being able to match up against this high-quality talent is just big for me in being able to get my name out there, to be able to make plays against those guys."
Johnson said that he is not intimidated by matching up against Jones, a player who had amassed nearly 500 catches in the NFL even before Johnson signed his Letter of Intent to play at Utah. Though Jones is still elite (nine catches for 157 yards in Week 1), Johnson doesn't worry about how he'll measure up.
"No, not since I've gotten to the NFL," said Johnson. "I did as a kid in high school and maybe in college, but at the end of the day, he bleeds the same way I bleed, so I'm just going to go out there and compete. I mean, he's the best, and I consider myself one of the best, so we've just got to match up."
Johnson is already familiar with how the Falcons operate.
"I didn't need to dive into Atlanta," said Johnson. "I knew who they were and their style of play way before this game. They're definitely explosive players and very savvy route runners, and they make every route look the same. It's just about having eye discipline and just trying to stay attached."
With two games under his belt, Johnson has started to adjust to the NFL, though his experience runs against conventional wisdom.
"The speed isn't a big difference," said Johnson. "For me, personally, people are a lot stronger and a lot bigger, but also that people know exactly what they're doing, this is their profession. So they are a lot more savvy at what they're doing and how to attack you."
Johnson shares the defensive backfield with two Pro Bowlers, fellow cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. He has taken the opportunity to learn from the two veterans, who have near-opposite approaches.
"I mean, they're two different people," said Johnson. "Eddie, he's more talkative. He's more out there and pumping people up and whatever, trying to help. Kyle's more quiet, but he'll also give you a few tips as well during the game to try to help you out. They're two different people, two different personalities on the field."
Johnson has one big takeaway from how his career has begun.
"I would just say you gotta be in position to be able to make a play on the ball, first and foremost," said Johnson. "Just being able to be in position when the ball is coming my way, just being able to finish."