Photo of Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson (DE)
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 266
College: Georgia Tech
Conference: ACC
Hometown: Selma, AL
High School: Dallas County
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Cincinnati Bengals
Round: 3
Pick (Overall): 6 (70)
Pick Analysis: The Bengals pick up an edge rusher with first-round talent with their selection of Johnson. A tall, rangy athlete with explosive quickness, Johnson has the ability to run down quarterbacks from the backside. Though he doesn't play with great effort at all times, he has the potential to be an impact player as a situational pass rusher.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis

After waiting three seasons for his opportunity, Johnson took over right defensive end chores as a senior, going on to earn All-American and All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors. Even though he started just fifteen games during tenure with the Yellow Jackets, he closed out his career with 19.0 quarterback sacks and 30.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Johnson used a burst of closing speed and long wingspan to force 10 fumbles, including three in each of his last three seasons. He also used his reach and leaping ability to block a total of three field goals as a junior and senior.

One of the nation's premier tight ends during his playing days at Dallas County High School, Johnson was team captain, earning Most Valuable Player honors during his senior campaign. That season, he caught 42 passes for 650 yards and six touchdowns while making 92 tackles and 14 sacks. He also had 25 receptions for 300 yards and three touchdowns as a junior. In addition to football, he was also an outstanding basketball player and averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds as a junior.

Johnson enrolled at Georgia Tech in 2005 as one of eight true freshmen to letter. The reserve defensive end saw action in 11 games, recording six tackles (five solo), but also caused a fumble for the kickoff-coverage team and registered his first career sack vs. Virginia Tech.

Playing as a No. 2 right defensive end, Johnson appeared in the team's final 12 games in 2006, missing the first two contests after suffering a neck stinger in August camp. He replaced an injured Oliver vs. Georgia, earning his first career start. He came up with 34 tackles (25 solo), finishing second on the squad with five quarterback sacks. He added six tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including three that resulted in forced fumbles.

Johnson saw considerable action coming off the bench in the team's passing situation package in 2007. He only started one game, but totaled 21 tacklers (11 solo). That included four sacks and six stops for losses. He recovered one of the three fumbles he caused and blocked a pair of field goals, including one in the waning moments vs. North Carolina.

The consensus All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection was also named to the American Football Coaches Association All-American first-team in 2008. Serving as one of three team captains, he led the squad sand placed third in the ACC with nine sacks and 17.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. For the third-straight season, he caused three fumbles and also deflected seven passes while returning his first career interception 26 yards for a touchdown.

High School

Attended Dallas County (Selma, Ala.) High School, playing football for head coach Richard Bush...Rated the seventh-best tight end in the country and the second-best overall prospect in Alabama by as team captain, earning Most Valuable Player honors during his senior campaign...That season, he caught 42 passes for 650 yards and six touchdowns while making 92 tackles and 14 sacks...Also had 25 receptions for 300 yards and three touchdowns as a junior...An outstanding basketball player, who averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds as a junior.

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Positives: Rare athleticism for the position, making a switch to outside linebacker possible at the next level. Lanky, athletic frame with room for considerable growth. Gained upper- and lower-body strength in his senior year and flashed the ability to bull rush tackles into the backfield. Takes advantage of his long arms to keep distance between he and the pass blocker. Able to keep tackles off his knees to avoid the cut block. Locates the ball quickly and can re-direct his charge. Good lateral agility and balance. Good straight-line speed. Accelerates quickly and has legitimate closing ability. Flashes the ability to punch, rip off and back up tackles using his length and increasing strength. Able to drop quickly, handle coverage responsibilities in the flat and has the hands to break up or intercept balls thrown in his area. Reads quarterback's eyes to get hands in passing lanes. Able to force fumbles during sacks and in the open field using his arm length.

Negatives: Is still an unfinished product and needs to be more consistent in his technique and effort. Might be relegated to a role as pass-rush specialist until he gains strength and bulk. Too often relies on his speed to the outside to generate his pass rush, losing all gap responsibility. Inconsistent in his explosiveness off the ball and as a tackler. Has the speed and length to make life difficult for NFL tackles but must give more constant effort. Washed out when blockers (even smaller tight ends) get into his pads; his height is a detriment in these situations. Tendency to stand around instead of chasing plays. Johnson has struggled with various injuries over his career.

Compares To: SIMEON RICE, ex-Tampa Bay -- Johnson has a lanky, wiry frame that gets him in trouble on running plays, on which he can't sink his pads well enough to prevent double teams from washing him out. Also like Rice, he seems too enamored with making the sack and will forget a lot of his other assignments, especially gap responsibility. Some "experts" compare him to the Giants' Mathias Kiwanuka or even to Julius Peppers -- neither comparison can be further from reality. Johnson's game isn't well-rounded. Johnson disappears for long stretches and that shouldn't happen for a player with his athletic ability and rare-sized frame. His physical attributes are what a team is going to drool over when they take him much earlier than his production indicates he should go on draft day.

Injury Report

2006: Missed the Notre Dame (9/02) and Samford (9/7) contests with a neck stinger suffered during August camp.

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