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Fan poll: Tennessee LB A.J. Johnson not ready for NFL

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Wade Payne/Associated Press
Tennessee LB A.J. Johnson has recorded 8.5 tackles for loss in each of the past two seasons.

Tennessee defensive coordinator John Jancek indicated a couple of weeks ago that Volunteers junior linebacker A.J. Johnson might be better off returning to college than declaring early eligibility for the NFL draft.

Vols fans, apparently, are in agreement.

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An ongoing poll at govolsextra.com asking fans whether Johnson is ready for the NFL is tracking overwhelmingly with the opinion that Johnson isn't yet NFL-ready, at 75 percent as of Wednesday morning. Two sensible interpretations of the poll results are in conflict, however. On one hand, UT fans no doubt would like to see Johnson return for his senior season, and therefore figure to be unlikely to endorse his early departure. However, they've also watched Johnson play 36 games over three seasons on some miserably bad defenses. To whatever extent they would assess him honestly, their votes could reflect seeing some of the same room for improvement Jancek apparently sees.

"It would be a tremendous impact to our program, and I think a great benefit to him personally, if he really takes a minute to step back and look at it," Jancek said.

Johnson has made a whopping 324 tackles in his UT career, but his lateral quickness and occasional struggles to make plays in space and on the perimeter are among the areas of concern.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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