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 Post subject: Merrill Johnson, OLB/SS, Auburn
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:37 am 
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Location: North Carolina
Merrill Johnson
5-11/206 Auburn
4.60 Senior

Pros: Does his best work when he's allowed to play in pursuit and does a nice job attacking the line of scrimmage. He can shoot gaps and is a capable tackler. Does a nice job on his zone drops.

Cons: He's undersized and it shows at times as a tackler. Will miss some stops in the open field and doesn't have great pop. Doesn't get off blocks well and needs to improve at the point of attack.

Overview: Johnson played both safety and linebacker at Auburn, but plays more like an undersized outside linebacker. I don't think he's 206 pounds as he looked like he was much closer to 220. I saw him effectively blocked by 180 pound Noel Devine, so regardless of what his actual weight, he needs to bulk up.

NFL Forecast: I think he has a shot at sticking as a reserve linebacker. Auburn has a history of producing capable undersized linebackers, including ex-Falcon Travis Williams. I think Johnson could be a similar player to Williams. He'll have to impact on special teams. I don't see him having much success at safety, although he has the experience to make it not a huge transition. But he's not quite fast or explosive enough to really work in the secondary. Johnson isn't really an option to be a long-term player in the NFL but could give a team two or three years as a capable reserve and special teamer much like Williams.

ATL Forecast: The Falcons can give him a shot hoping he can be a similar player like Travis Williams. More than likely, he's just a practice squad player here, but can help out on special teams. He could be developed in coverage some more, but it's doubtful that he's going to become even a part-time nickel linebacker in the pros. He can help the Falcons for a few years on special teams, and then they can move on with a better player.

Value: Johnson is a tweener and lacks upside, but he is worth somebody signing as a free agent.

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