The Tennessee Titans addressed the EDGE position by signing Arden Key and releasing Bud Dupree this offseason. With Harold Landry returning from a season-ending knee injury, the Titans could still look to add insurance at the position. Signing Key makes it less of a priority, but general manager Ran Carthon should still draft a pass rusher in the mid-to-late rounds.
One candidate could be Oregon Ducks EDGE D.J. Johnson, who the Titans have shown interest in, sources told Music City Miracles. The Titans previously met informally at the combine with Johnson, per Oregonian Sports. The two sides also met at this year’s Senior Bowl.
A former tight end-turned-edge rusher, Johnson posted career-highs in tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (6.0) in 2022. Johnson is a particularly intriguing prospect, especially in the designated pass-rushing role Tennessee would be drafting him to play in. Johnson is an ascending talent that’s just scratching the surface of his complete potential.
Johnson is being underrated throughout this pre-draft process. Johnson possesses outstanding size and is a plus-level athlete. Johnson measured in at a rocked-up 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine. Johnson then ran the 40 yard dash in a blazing 4.49 seconds with a 1.59 10-yard split. It’s worth acknowledging that Johnson’s agility and explosion testing results left something to be desired.
DJ Johnson is a LB prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 8.32 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 414 out of 2465 LB from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/QDFPqcGcCh #RAS pic.twitter.com/WFxDEOPN78— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 19, 2023
Johnson features an outstanding bull rush as a pass rusher. Johnson’s bill-rush can place opposing offensive tackles on their heels while driving them back into the pocket. Johnson was extremely disruptive throughout 2022.
Here’s what Lance Zierlein of NFL.Com had to say about Johnson:
Power merchant with jarring initial hand strikes that can create early advantages. Johnson is big, explosive and rugged but lacking the experience and technique to consistently capitalize on his physicality. He has broad, tight hips that make it challenging to keep the pad level where it needs to be as a rusher, tackler and while taking on run blocks. He has very few moves or counters, but his bull rush can put opponents on skates. There is significant technique work that needs to take place, but his NFL Scouting Combine testing should only help his draft stock.
Still being relatively new to the position, Johnson obviously has wiggle room to further refine his pass-rushing arsenal. The San Francisco 49ers routinely bet on physical tools throughout the later rounds of the draft during Carthon’s tenure. Johnson could be a target considering he has plenty of potential to offer.