James Michael Johnson Draft Profile
As one of the more underrated ILB’s in the 2012 draft class, James-Michael Johnson possesses a nice blend of speed and athleticism that will be a welcome addition to the team that drafts him. As a starter at Nevada, he hasn’t faced the big time of competition like someone at Alabama would, but he’s proven that he can more than compete for a starting job early on in the NFL.
What Johnson does well that I love to see out of him is use his athleticism to the best of his ability. What I mean by that is, he’s athletic and he knows it so he has no problem lining up against a TE in 1v1 coverage and be able to stop him. I’ve see him run step for step with a RB too, which is something we need in our 3-4 scheme. Also when you watch him play he’s a very good blitzer. What he does well is take a proper angle to the QB and he can lay a good hit. Its impressive to watch and when you watch him play, you can see a guy who is a little raw in certain aspects, but at the same time he’s got talent you can’t deny. I see him a bit like I did Perry Riley, someone who had a lot of talent, but needed a bit of “seasoning” per say. I mentioned it earlier, but Johnson’s best trait to me is his coverage ability. He reminds me of a guy like Lawrence Timmons. Timmons was thought to be a bit of an odd fit for the 3-4, but LeBeau moved him to the ILB scheme and made him more of a coverage/blitz type guy for them. What Johnson could do is move to that position that Fletcher has done a great job at being able to still cover RB’s but also blitz the QB and bring the heat.
The downsides to Johnson are pretty simple and when you watch film they do show. The one that drives me nuts is watching him get washed out by OL in the run game. Now I know he’s only 240 and those OL are 290+, but you have to be able to take on blocks in the 3-4 scheme and make plays from that. Watching him play, I feel like it could be technique based on how to attack the blocks properly. Another thing that shows up on the film that is a negative is watching him sometimes in the pass game. He tends to play upright in coverage and that can allow him to give up a completion. Now again its technique with him, which is why I keep saying he’s someone you can sit on the bench learn from the other LB’s and coaches and then be ready to go when his number is called when London hangs his cleats up. Those two things on film really do stand out and if he can work on them, then he has the makings of being a very successful 3-4 ILB.
Where does Michael-Johnson fit with Washington? I think he’s a great fit here for the Redskins as a guy who can sit on the bench at first and be a special teams guy at first, then in 2 years when London will be winding it down on his career, can take over at ILB and not skip a beat. He’s got the blitzing ability that Haslett will like, and also is an effective player in coverage.
To watch James-Michael Johnson in action check out this video by TMBDraft that has 3 games mashed up.