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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: EDGE Patrick Johnson

  • The Draft Network
  • January 13, 2021
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In 34 games played across the last three seasons, Patrick Johnson has quietly been one of college football’s most productive defensive playmakers. Over that span, Johnson has accumulated 120 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 21 sacks, 11 pass breakups, and six forced fumbles. Tulane deployed Johnson from a variety of positions in the front seven including as a true off-ball linebacker, on the edge, and some on the interior defensive line. At the next level, Johnson’s best fit is as a 3-4 outside linebacker where his versatility, processing skills, technique, and physical traits are best utilized. As a pass rusher, Johnson has good variety with his hand usage and the ways he can get home. As a run defender, Johnson processes quickly and understands his role when it comes to run fits. In addition, Johnson is comfortable executing zone coverage drops. While Johnson has modest length and still has room to further develop his pass-rushing skill set, his versatility, football intelligence, athleticism, and functional strength gives him a chance to contribute early at the next level and develop into a starter in the right scheme. 

Ideal Role: Potential starting 3-4 outside linebacker.

Scheme Fit: 3-4 base, hybrid front.


Written by Joe Marino 

Games watched: Memphis (2019), Houston (2019), FIU (2019),  SMU (2020), East Carolina (2020), Memphis (2020), South Alabama (2020), UCF (2020)  

Best Game Studied: East Carolina (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: UCF (2020) 

First-Step Explosiveness: Johnson is quick and fluid out of his stance and puts considerable stress on AAC offensive tackles to keep pace with him up the arc. He is consistent when releasing from both a two- and three-point stance with no issues with false steps. He does well to use his initial steps to set up his rush plan and draw blockers out of their sets. 

Flexibility: Johnson has the flexibility needed to threaten the outside hip of blockers, corner and explode to the quarterback. He is smooth when changing directions and naturally slides in space. With that said, there aren’t many instances where upper-body flexibility shows up and he reduces his surface area and makes it difficult in that way for blockers to get their hands on him. 

Hand Counters: Johnson features good variety with his hand usage including a cross-chop, hump move, variety of stabs, spin move, dip-rip, and bull rush. His ability to string together moves and deploy his rush plan was notably better in 2020 compared to 2019. He generally does well to place his hands and they stay busy throughout each rep. 

Length: Johnson has modest length but that doesn’t mean he isn’t effective playing with extension and controlling reps. He is very effective when it comes to stabs and keeping blockers away from his pads. He also does well to tackle outside of his frame. 

Hand Power: Johnson has heavy and violent hand strikes. His punch is capable of jolting pads and enabling him to take control of the rep. He accentuates his hand power with good timing and placement. 

Run Defending: Johnson sets firm edges, understands run fits, and competes hard for his gap. He plays the game with good angles and is a terrific contain player. Johnson processes blocks quickly and has timely responses, showcasing a strong understanding of how to counter blocks and fill his role. 

Effort: Johnson’s motor is always cranked and his snap-to-snap effort is consistent. He is willing to chase from distance and his pursuit enthusiasm is ideal. He is never content getting blocked and battles to clear contact and find the football. 

Football IQ: Johnson has good processing speed and football intelligence. In particular, he does a great job staying home, not biting on false keys, and triggering appropriately. Johnson is an experienced defender in a variety of roles and he never appears hesitant or calculated. 

Lateral Mobility: Johnson showcases the ability to play in space and flow laterally. He easily moves down the line of scrimmage and works toward the sideline to make plays outside the numbers. He is comfortable with in-zone coverage drops, reaching his landmarks, and sliding into throwing lanes. 

Versatility: Tulane used him all over the defensive front seven including off-ball linebacker, on the edge, and he even got reps rushing the passer from the interior defensive line. At the next level, Johnson projects best as a 3-4 outside linebacker and in hybrid fronts. He is experienced and effective in coverage drops, rushing the passer, and defending the run from a variety of alignments. 

Prospect Comparison: Ryan Anderson (2017 NFL Draft, Washington Football Team) 


TDN Consensus: 73.38/100

Kyle Crabbs: 74.00/100

Joe Marino: 74.50/100

Jordan Reid: 73.00/100

Drae Harris: 72.00/100

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