Zac’s note: This piece was first published on my Examiner page
I’ll be the first person to admit that I am not a NFL Draft “expert.” I don’t pay that much attention to the NFL Combine since I don’t get the NFL Network. Due to being away from my apartment for much of February, I missed out on the 2009 NFL Combine completely.
One thing I do, however, is check out the different mock drafts from time to time. Doing so at the end of January was the reason behind my writing about James Laurinaitis. On Wednesday, a new mock draft was released on the FOX Sports website. This draft has the Giants selecting Michael Johnson with their first pick. Johnson is a defensive end out of Georgia Tech. Here’s a brief introduction to Johnson for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the pass rusher.
At 6-7 and 266, Michael Johnson is quite the physical presence on the football field. After some brief Googling, I learned that he was actually recruited as a tight end. Looking at his Combine stats, I can see why that is. Johnson ran a 4.75 in the 40 yard dash, finished with a vertical jump of 38.5 and a broad jump of 10’8” and clocked in at 4.37 in the 20 yard shuttle. His broad jump was the best among all defensive lineman (tied with Connor Barwin). Johnson was top three in vertical jump and 20 yard shuttle and top 5 in the 40 yard dash.
Johnson put up solid stats during his senior year with Georgia Tech. He finished with 46 total tackles, 17.5 of those being for a loss. He also accumulated nine sacks, caused three fumbles and even had an interception. 2008 was the only season that Johnson started all regular season games while in college.
NFL Network analyst Mike Maylock suggests that Johnson may be his own worst enemy out on the field. CBS Sports reported that Maylock questioned Johnson’s “desire and consistency,” so much so that Maylock has Johnson as the fifth best defensive end in the 2009 NFL Draft. There are also major concerns about Johnson’s ability (or inability) to play against the run. Some experts even see Johnson as a better outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme than a defensive end in a 4-3.
There are two ways you can look at the Giants drafting Michael Johnson with the 29 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft:
Why would the Giants take a defensive lineman with their first pick in the draft when they have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL? It would make much more sense for Big Blue to take a linebacker, defensive back or wide receiver ahead of any defensive lineman in this draft. Realistically, Johnson would probably only play on third and long situations. I’d like to see a first round pick out on the field a little more often than that.
Who better to teach Michael Johnson how to be a great defensive end than the New York Giants? From what I’ve read, it’s suggested that Johnson will need to work with great coaching and great lineman in order to become an elite player. Michael Johnson, may I introduce you to Mr. Tuck, Mr. Umenyiora and Mr. Kiwanuka.
If Johnson puts in another solid performance on Pro Day (March 9), he may not even be around at pick 29 as the Dolphins or Patriots may grab him. As we get closer to the draft, though, it seems obvious that the Giants are leaning towards picking defense in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Here’s a short video of Michael Johnson playing at Georgia Tech.