Scouting The Draft: Derrell Johnson, OLB, East Carolina

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

We take a switch from early round receiving talent to late round defensive talent, with the focus on Derrell Johnson.

Introduction

Derell Johnson will represent East Carolina against Ohio today in the Beef 'O' Brady Bowl St. Petersburg (honestly, some of these bowl names are just ridiculous). Johnson will make his 49th straight start in the bowl game which is the longest active streak in the FBS right now.

Johnson came into Carolina as a defensive end, however after coordinator Rick Smith joined the staff in 2011 he was moved to outside linebacker in the 3-4 system. Since that moment, Johnson has really excelled and he has continued to lead the pirate defense in all important defensive categories

in 2012 Johnson had 11 tackles for a loss, 7 sacks, 8 quarterback hurries and 2 fumble recoveries. This year he has continued his impressive form with 79 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and 8 quarterback hurries. Obviously you have to consider the competition he is facing week in and week out in conference USA, and that's why he's down there in the 5th to 7th round range of the draft right now.

Measurables

Height: 6'2

Weight: 262lb's

Class: Senior

Projected 40: 4.6-4.8

Statistics

Year Tackles Tackles for a loss QB Sacks Quarterback hurries Fumble recoveries
2013 79 13.5 7.5 8 2
2012 62 11 7 8 2
2011 39 5.5 3 3 0
2010 40 4.5 1 2 0

Positives

One of the first things you'll notice when you watch Johnson is his first step, he's very quick off the snap and rarely takes a poor first step. Has incredible strength and I fully expect him to blow up the pre-draft bench press numbers. Much better suited to playing outside at linebacker. Very sound tackler, good speed and takes good angles to the football and ball carrier. Uses his hands well to get off blocks, has a couple of moves in his closet and uses the swim move well to get to the QB. Can run with receivers if he has to, but much better suited to coming down hill to meet the ball carrier and QB. Plays with an excellent motor and a lot of passion, always expects the very best from himself.

Negatives

Competition, the numbers look good but he's done it in conference USA, so you really need to look past the numbers. Doesn't look that comfortable turning and running back towards his own half, can lose the player he is defending, isn't very fluid in the transition. A lot of his talent at the college level comes from his strength and ability to just overwhelm his opponents, he may not be able to do that in the NFL. Inconsistent speed, sometimes looks very fast on tape and at others he looks a step behind.

Conclusion

I'm 50/50 on Johnson, on one hand I think he looks good on tape, his first step, his motor, his ability to get into the backfield. Then I consider who is is playing, how he is getting into the back-field and asking myself will it translate to the next level. I'm not sure it will, but I like him enough to be interested.

Would I Draft Him For The Jets

Between the 5th and 7th round I would be interested, any higher than that and I'm taking a pass. He has the capability to climb the board with his workout in shorts, but I wouldn't want to take that chance before the 5th, preferably I'd want to use a 6th. He has potential and as a late round pick coming out of the C-USA, there would be no expectation on him to produce in year one. I'm interested, but I wouldn't be upset if we missed out on Johnson either.

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