PROS: Is a physical run stuffer that has good pop and power as a tackler. Closes on the ball, wraps up, and delivers hit when working in pursuit. Can make the stop at the point of attack and works well between the hashmarks in confined space. Shows good potential and ability as a blitzer and pass rusher up the middle. Works well when he's allowed to attack upfield.
CONS: Not always a sound tackler as he relies on his strength and power rather than good technique at times. Lacks speed and range to make plays outside hashmarks consistently. Lacks ideal instincts, overpursues, and gets caught out of position. Is not fluid moving in space and lacks awareness when working in coverage. Has had issues with durability.
OVERVIEW: A big, physical run defender that is probably too big at this point. Been a full-time starter in the middle for two seasons, but also split reps as a sophomore. Has battled injuries throughout past three seasons, although he only managed to miss 3 games in that span. Battled ankle injury as a junior, but had 93 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks in 11 games. As a senior had 105 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, and 1 sack. Had a sprained knee, sprained foot, and also injured his MCL in the bowl game. As a sophomore, was suspended during the spring for academic issues, also had knee surgery during that season.
NFL FORECAST: I think Johnson is too heavy, which is why he suffers so many lower leg injuries. If he got down to 245 or so, I think he would see his health increase. It would also allow him add much needed speed to his game, although he's never going to be a rangy defender. He fits best in a 3-4 scheme. You like his upside because he's a physical, powerful player that shows good ability as a pass rusher. But he doesn't play instinctually, at least to the degree that you want in a middle linebacker, who is supposed to be your smartest and most disciplined player. He reminds me of the throwback 3-4 inside linebackers like Levon Kirkland and Earl Holmes that used to play with the Steelers. He's a two-down player that might become a serviceable guy in coverage if he was to slim down and get quicker. But frankly, I don't have high hopes for his future until he lost some weight and proved he could stay healthy. So I think it might be hard for him to impact early on and stick on a roster, despite having the physical tools and potential to be a solid starter down the road. Jasper Brinkley was a similar player in college, and showed he was a capable stopgap starter
ATL FORECAST: Johnson doesn't fit in Atlanta until he drops some weight. Then he could become a nice backup to Lofton. He's physical and tough and if he can show that early on special teams he could stick in Atlanta. But he'd be limited even as a replacement starter in Atlanta until he slimmed down and added more speed and quickness to his game. I'd assume it would take at least a year before you can expect him to really slim down, and thus it would take him a year before he could really start to add depth and contribute as a backup. But he's not really a long-term option even as a backup in Atlanta unless he can prove he can stay healthy and contribute on special teams.
VALUE: If he didn't have the durability issues, he would be a third or fourth round talent for a 3-4 team. But because of those issues and the related weight issues, he falls to a sixth or seventh round at best. But I'd much rather sign him as an undrafted free agent because of those issues.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
POINT OF ATTACK: 4.0
PASS RUSH: 3.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.