Player Name: Austin Johnson
H/W: 6'4 314
School/Class: Penn State / RS Junior
Position: Defensive Tackle
Measureables: 5.32 40, 25 bench press reps, 26" vertical jump, 8'3" broad jump, 7.84 3 cone drill
- Football IQ / Instincts - Johnson is rarely fooled by any misdirection plays such as reverses, screens, counters, or toss sweeps. He's generally in the right area even though he doesn't always make the tackle. Ball skills are above average even for a big guy his size on the line. Possesses tremendous instincts as a defensive tackle in both the run and the pass. Can diagnose the play quickly and attack the ball. Knows what his job is as the big body space eater tackle and doesn't go stat hunting.
- Work Ethic / Character - Most of his stats are from having a constantly running motor that doesn't quit on the play. Will pursue the ball carrier even if they are already at the second level of the defense. This has shown up repeatedly throughout his film. Character is also unquestioned by teammates and coaches alike. He will outwork the offensive lineman nearly every single play. Johnson willingly sacrificed going after glory stats such as sacks in order to free up his teammates.
- Frame - AJ has an immense frame that can gain a little weight if necessary. He's very knowledgeable in the art of using his big body to occupy his gap assignment. Footwork is above average in run defense. Pass defense needs a little more refining footwork wise. He uses what limited athleticism he has (relatively speaking) wisely to get to the ball.
- Scheme Versatility - Penn State primarily ran the 4-3 defense during his tenure there but he has proven to have the body type and work ethic to project as a 3-4 nose tackle in the NFL.
- Athleticism - Johnson can diagnose the play but it's an entirely different story trying to get there when he is required to play outside the tackle box. This wasn't entirely unexpected given his size and role on PSU's defense. Doesn't fire off the ball very well. Footwork tends go by the wayside once he gets held up in the wash.
- Patience is a virtue - but there were times where he's too willing to be the team player and let his teammates make plays. It seems like he's constantly dancing with the offensive lineman while the runner is already past him and he tries to make up for it by aimlessly flailing about. Loses leverage by playing too high into the blocker at times.
- Pass defense - Johnson is too reliant on sheer brute strength to get to the passer. Not the most technically refined pass rusher out there as most of his sacks and tackles for loss came off of outworking the blocker. Frequently engages the blocker but due to his lack of pass rush arsenal and lack of athleticism, is often stuck at the LOS.
He comes from an athletic family as younger sister Kennedy plays basketball for Michigan State. Played hoops in high school at an all state level in New Jersey. Graduated with a journalism degree from PSU (maybe he can take Kuharsky's job when he's done playing.) It's interesting that he reunites with a former college teammate in current Titan DaQuan Jones. One of the last Nittany Lions defensive line recruits that were taught by legendary DL coach Larry Johnson, Sr.
I like the pick as Johnson should provide depth on the line to start off his career. Not to mention that I had him going to the Titans in several of my mock drafts. He fits the profile as a classic space eating 3-4 nose tackle in Dick LeBeau's system similar to Casey Hampton did for the Steelers. The good news is that he doesn't have to start right away as Al Woods is the incumbent at the NT spot. He can sit and learn the nuances of the defense, get used to NFL strength and conditioning, and develop a more diverse pass rush skillset. I also like the fact that he's willing to do the dirty work inside to free up his much more heralded teammates to go make plays.
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