NFL Draft 2022 Scouting Report: DE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

*Our DL grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, leaked Wonderlic test results, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.

 

There’s like ten edge rushers that I could say are ‘the best in the 2022 draft class’…and Jermaine Johnson is one of the ten.

There are so many solid-not-special (on the surface) edge rushers in this draft, I don’t know why a team is going to reach for 1-3 of them in the first 1-5-10 picks…but they will, because NFL coaches are a moth to a flame on edge rushers. They love the sack guys…totally overlooking the marketplace that’s overstocked/inflated with a bunch of good (not great today, but I’m sure one will break through), promising edge rushers…like 2021’s draft.

I’m not going to go on and on about the 27 different ways you could try and compare and contrast the top ten edge rushers in this draft. They’re all good…they all have flaws/concerns…none seem ‘great’, no one with that obvious ‘wow factor’. Chase Young or Joey Bosa or Jadeveon Clowney or Bradley Chubb were considered elite and have not made much of a difference, not as advertised/sold to us – so I don’t know why the top edge prospects having been low ROI for the past few years combined with the sheer volume of good options available = we must chase edge rushers at all costs still. It’s so outdated. They’re all looking for their ‘Lawrence Taylor’ or ‘Reggie White’ that they grew up on, I guess.

Aaron Donald is a defensive tackle, not a DE…and ‘they’ all swore Tim Jernigan was the best DT in the draft for the first four months of the pre-Draft rankings.

QBs are everything. Then there’s a debate over what’s the second most important. WRs are becoming hot commodities. The left tackle used to rule, but Joe Burrow 2021 showed us it didn’t matter quite as much as we thought…but it’s still so key. A shutdown corner to combat the WR talent coming in is critical. OT-CB-WR are the debatable 2-3-4 of NFL team building importance.

Then the edge guys?

Maybe?

The Chase Young + Montez Sweat combo was supposed to rule 2021, but Washington had one of/THEE worst defenses in the league with them last year…until they got hurt, and replaced, and then the Washington D improved, without them.

OK, back to the edge rushers in the 2022 NFL Draft…

Jermaine Johnson had a great Combine but didn’t get the initial surge of approval Travon Walker did…but now, late-breaking in the process, Johnson is starting to move into the top 10 overall in mocks – because we GOTTA have more edge rushers, the position fading in importance.

 

A quick comparison on two similar physiques/top edge prospects…

6’4.0”/250, 34” arms, 4.58 40-time, 1.56 10-yd, 27 bench = Thibodeaux

6’4’5”/254, 34” arms, 4.58 40-time, 1.59 10-yd, 21 bench = Jermaine Johnson

Similar athletes, Johnson the better on-field producer.

…and I think Johnson is the better producer/natural ability on tape over Thibodeaux.

just a quick aside/comp.

 

A lot of these guys look so similar on tape that it’s near impossible to rank one over another. My case for Johnson would come down to the one attribute I see on tape that he has better than any edge rusher I’ve studied so far in 2022 – and that’s his power/bull rush.

Johnson has some great core strength and get-off, because he is one of the rare few edge rushers that constantly moves his blocker backwards on most all rush attempts…he levers his way forward moving blockers by strength. A lot of edge rushers try to speed by their blocker on all attempts, and they get neutralized quickly when they lock up with a good blocker…they hate going straight into a blocker, they almost always try and race by them if they can win the race (which they usually just get pushed, having their momentum used against them, way out of the play).

Johnson does an impressive job of surging a blocker backwards when in a lockup and then tries to break loose, left or right, as he’s collapsing the pocket. He’s very good at it. He sucks (from a top prospect sense) at a speed rush…he has the speed, but he speeds right on by the action as the blocker escorts him way out of the play. If Johnson becomes a Pro Bowl edge rusher, it will be because of his great surge straight up with a blocker. However, I watched Johnson against NC State OT, top draft prospect, Ikem Ekwonu…and Ekwonu had little issue containing the Johnson surge, but Ekwonu is pretty special.

Johnson has the speed/surge ability to be a good speed rusher as well…but he needs more training to harness his erratic running way past/outside the pocket – but that’s something you can work on with him. His pass rush straight-on is a unique ability that can hardly be taught/produced.

You like Johnson’s off-field story as well…

Johnson got out of the gates poorly -- a 1.9 high school GPA…couldn’t get into D1 play. Had to go the JUCO route and wound up at Last Chance U. (the Netflix show) and worked his way out of there and onto D1 play with Georgia. Got semi-lost in the shuffle (of deep talent) with the Bulldogs and transferred his final season/2021 to Florida State, where he became a 1st-team All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

Watching Johnson in his interviews – he’s a smart, humble young man. The low effort high school kid is no more. He’s turned his life around. He plays with a drive…and he plays with full effort, rarely giving up on plays. He’s a run pursuer as well as edge rusher. He’s legit for the NFL. How legit? Is the question…

 

 

Jermaine Johnson, Through the Lens of Our DE Scouting Algorithm:

 -- #1 in the ACC (2021) in TFLs (18) and sacks (11.5) in 12 games.

 -- 16.5 sacks in his last 18 games.

 -- had a 7 tackle, 5.0 TFL, 3.0 sack game against Miami in 2021.

 -- 5 or more tackles in a game in eight of his 12 games in 2021.

 -- Toughest opponents in 2021: Notre Dame, Clemson, NC State, and Florida…and he averaged 5.5 tackles, 1.4 TFLs, and 0.88 sacks per game.

 -- 2021 ACC Defensive Player of the Year

 

 

2022 NFL Combine:

6’4.5”/254

9.8” hands, 34” arms

4.58 40-time, 2.68 20-yard, 1.59 10-yard

21 bench press, 32” vertical, 10’5” broad

No agility times, but he looks very shifty/agile.

 

 

 

The Historical DE Prospects to Whom Jermaine Johnson Most Compares Within Our System:

Johnson comps with solid, quality pass rush prospects and NFL reality edge rushers. Maybe not the elite, but good starters…fringe Pro Bowlers in the right situation.

 

DE Score

Last

First

Yr

 

College

H

H

W

Bull Rush

Speed Rush

Pass Rush Metric

Tackle Metric

8.048

Johnson

Jermaine

2022

Florida State

6

4.5

254

10.63

7.53

8.66

6.17

8.560

Allen

Josh

2019

Kentucky

6

4.7

259

8.84

9.56

9.43

6.70

7.295

Sweat

Josh

2018

Florida St.

6

4.6

251

8.69

11.85

7.85

5.53

8.305

Crosby

Maxx

2019

E. Michigan

6

4.7

255

8.52

10.54

9.07

5.84

9.920

Scott

Trevor

2008

Buffalo

6

5.0

256

11.22

13.23

8.73

5.80

 

*A score of 8.00+ is where we see a stronger correlation of DEs going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL DE.

All of the DE ratings are based on a 0–10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.

Power-Strength Metrics = A combination of several measurements. An attempt to classify the DE prospect as more of a battle-in-the-trenches type of DE, a 'bull-rusher', and/or a DE prospect who has some DT capabilities.

Speed-Agility Metrics = A combination of several speed, agility, size measurements. A unique measuring system to look for DEs who profile more as speed-rush, stand-up DEs, and/or possible OLBs.

Pass-Rusher Rating = A combination of physical measurables, and college performance, graded historically for future NFL profiling. In the simplest of terms, this is an attempt to classify whether a particular DE is likely to achieve high sack totals in the NFL. We know the 'system'/scheme the DE goes on to play in has a part in future success...but so do the player's skills and performance history. "You can't keep a good man/DE down," we'd like to think.

Tackling Rating = A combination of physical measurables, and college performance, graded historically for future NFL profiling. In the simplest of terms, this is an attempt to classify the DE as one more likely to be involved in a heavy amount of tackles, tackles for a loss, and forced fumbles. Lower-scoring DEs in this subcategory tend to be more pure pass-rushers/specialists. This is also our attempt to quantify, if it's possible, the 'toughness' of a player.

 

 

2022 NFL Draft Outlook:

Jermaine Johnson has a solid Senior Bowl and Combine and that got him into the 1st-round for all, but now, suddenly, he’s moving up into the top 10…because no one can figure out who should be in the top 10. This week, Johnson is the soup de jour. I suspect he’ll go top 20, if not top 10.

If I were an NFL GM, I like Johnson just fine…but there are tons of promising edge rushers going day two and three. I don’t need to waste a high pick on a high supply position like edge rusher.

 

NFL Outlook:   

Should be fine. Plays all three downs and is effective, so he’ll have a career. Probably has some ‘meh’ edge years and some Pro Bowl worthy ones. He will not burn his draft team, but I don’t know that he’ll give an ROI worthy of how high his selection will be.