Congratulations! You've just made the wonderful decision to draft Jaleel Johnson! Like most new Johnson owners, you're no doubt filled with questions about your new family member. We here at GIA will try our best to answer any questions you might have.
WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT JALEEL JOHNSON?
Men that big should not be able to move that fast. Johnson has all the size you could want at the defensive tackle position -- 6'3", 316 lbs -- but he couples that with a good first step and the ability to accelerate quickly as a pass rusher. As a pass rusher, Johnson is an absolute beast with an ability to blast off the snap, get by an offensive lineman, and attack the backfield. He's got a diverse array of moves and skills in his pass rush arsenal as well.
WHAT DID HE DO THAT'S SO GREAT?
He had a quiet start to his career, playing a handful of snaps as a freshman and getting some rotation snaps as a sophomore before becoming a starter as a junior and senior. He really blossomed this year, turning into an All-Big Ten performer. He saved his best performance for Iowa's biggest game of the season, going off for nine tackles (six solo -- which is pretty crazy for a defensive tackle), two tackles for loss, a sack, and a game-changing safety. Johnson steadily improved throughout his career and was a big-time playmaker for the Iowa defense this season.
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HOW ARE HIS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES?
As noted above, he's got plenty of size for the defensive tackle position and he's quicker than you'd expect for a guy his size -- although that's more game speed than testing speed. For whatever reason, Johnson did not have a good performance at the Scouting Combine, finishing near the bottom in multiple drills. His Pro Day wasn't a whole lot better. So yeah: not so great at measurables. But his tape is still good and his performances (especially that aforementioned game against a talent-rich Michigan team) speak for themselves. He's better than his numbers -- honestly.
PRO DAY RESULTS:
WHAT ABOUT THE BAD?
Johnson is a better pass-rusher at defensive tackle than he is a run-stuffer. He's solid as a run-stuffer and doesn't make many mistakes, but if you're looking for a space-eating tackle that's just going to swallow up running backs like a black hole, you should probably look elsewhere. Physically, he can get a little too upright at times and occasionally gets blocked out of plays. He had a few spells of inconsistency at Iowa, too, although mainly when he was a younger player.
WAS THIS A GOOD PICK?
Yes -- especially if the Johnson who showed up in that Michigan game turns up in the NFL. That Johnson was an absolute wrecking ball of a player. As noted above, Johnson has some limitations so you're going to need to be sure that he's right for your system; he's not the sort of player that can you just plug and play into any defense. But he should be a solid rotation option as a rookie, with the clear potential to develop into something more as he gets his feet underneath him in the NFL and improves some of his technique issues.