Ravens draft prospect: Defensive end Jermaine Johnson

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson is the latest player to be mocked by the Ravens in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Johnson would not only fill a need, but also be a good fit for Baltimore, according to ESPN draft expert Todd McShay.

“Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum would be a good choice after the Ravens lost Bradley Bozeman to free agency. But could the Ravens afford to ignore Johnson’s fall from the top 10 straight into their lap at No. 14? McShay wrote. “They were in the bottom 10 last year in sacks (34), and only Tyus Bowser (seven sacks) and Odafe Oweh (five) made a big difference there.

“Johnson had 12 sacks and 46 pressures at FSU in 2021, frequently using his quick feet, powerful hands and arsenal of passing-rush moves to overwhelm blockers. If Linderbaum ends up with the Ravens, I’d bet that comes after a trade on the first round board.

Here is a breakdown from Johnson, according to the SI Bible Project:

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Advantages:

Jermaine Johnson is an athletic point guard on the defensive line with a muscular build and long arms giving him a physical edge. Johnson excels against the run, playing from 4-, 3-, and 2-point positions on the strongside and weakside. He has tremendous playing strength due to his build and technique – consistently playing with a low pad level and gaining inside hand placement to create a pop at the point of attack and then stacking his block. Johnson’s raw physique and power overwhelms tight ends and some tackles and he is a terror to block throughout the game. Johnson is very disciplined in his gap and also in reading options.

He is a fast processor of the game in front of him, follows the ball carrier well in traffic and has an excellent short area burst to chase the ball. Johnson’s drive is also a force, steadily chasing the ball down the sideline or downfield, showing immense competitiveness. Johnson was extremely productive as a pass thrower during his senior season and his raw power and competitive mentality are the main reason for that.

Johnson shows flashes of attacking from “half man” to win on an outside track with his powerful hands and his go-to move is a chop. Johnson has a penchant for making an impact on 3rd Down, improving on his normally average start and rising on the moment.

The inconvenients:

A good chunk of Johnson’s production has come when she’s not blocked off, cleaning up pressure from teammates or on a cover sack – those are lower quality sacks that aren’t as predictive of the future success of the NFL. Added to this is his raw use of the hand – Johnson struggles to time his passing moves and doesn’t have a wide repertoire at his disposal. Additionally, Johnson has a best-starting average, especially when playing from a 4- or 3-point position.

He is regularly a fraction of a second late on the snap, which puts him at a disadvantage. Additionally, Johnson struggles to win cleanly against the pass as his turns are sub-par – he has stiff hips that he struggles to return to the quarterback and also loses his balance too often trying to bend. Johnson really struggles to parry the outside hand of the tackle and is too often pushed beyond the pocket, far from having an impact on the game.

Summary:

Johnson is a muscular, long-armed defender who excels on the run from 4-, 3-, and 2-point positions on the strong or weak side of defense. He is immensely physical and competitive, creating pop at the point of attack and chasing plays with tremendous effort.

He shows flashes like a pass rusher but needs to improve his timing, turns and hand usage. Early in his career, Johnson can be a functional starting advantage on the downhills and can become an above-average starter if he hones his passing-rushing skills.

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