6-7/266 Georgia Tech
Pros: Has ideal frame for an end and good athleticism. Comfortable working in space and capable dropping back into coverage on zone blitzes. Has a nice first step. Developing a decent spin move and ﬂashes a nice inside move and bull rush at times. Shows pretty good recognition.
Cons: Not explosive off the snap and can't turn the corner. Has only an OK motor. Lacks lower body strength and can't get base.
Overview: Johnson has the perfect frame and build that scouts look for in a DE prospect. He's got that ideal basketball body and has long arms. But he was an underachiever in school that was never as productive as he should have been. Had 9 sacks as a senior, his only year as a full-time starter.
NFL Forecast: Johnson is a long-term project that is going to take some time to develop as a top pass rusher. The potential is there with his athleticism, but he's not going to be an edge rusher. He's a guy that will have success based off his technique and a large repertoire of moves. He's developing there, but he's still several years away. Doesn't have a great motor, which is going to inhibit his development. Might be a better option for some teams to try and convert him to a new position, such as outside linebacker in the 3-4. He'd be a project there, but not much more than he already is at defensive end. Also it wouldn't be crazy if a team tried to move him to offense, where he has the athleticism and size to be an impact tight end. But again, all of these are long-term projects that means that Johnson is not going to do much in his initial years in the league.
ATL Forecast: Johnson is essentially a Jamaal Anderson-clone. He's skinnier and a bit more athletic, but suffers many of the same problems that Anderson has. Despite being a good athlete, he'll never be a dominant edge rusher and disappears for long stretches of a time. Similarly, if Johnson was a Falcon, he'd also be considered an underachiever during his first few years.
Value: He has first round talent and potential, but because of how much a project he is, a team should wait until the third or fourth round to draft him.
Scouting Reports of defensive ends in the 2009 NFL Draft.
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