6’ 2” 256 lbs.
Strengths: Size, Straight Line Speed, Burst, Instincts, Pass Coverage, Strength, Highlight Reel, Intensity
Weaknesses: Football IQ, Change of Direction, Tackling, Over Aggressive
By Daryl Breault
Update January 3, 2010- The 2009 season did not go as well as hoped for Johnson and the Wildcats. Losses along the defensive line to graduation and the NFL left Johnson without the protection he enjoyed the year before with Myron Pryor and Jeremy Jarmon in front of him. Teams did a good job of scheming for him and as a result Johnson made fewer big plays this year despite racking up more tackles. In fact, his tackle totals are slightly misleading as well as while his 105 tackles led the Wildcats, he had 51 solo tackles compared to 54 assisted tackles, inflating his total tackles. His TFL dropped from 13.5 to 6.5, his sacks from 2.5 to 0 and he had no forced fumbles this year. Needless to say, the big year expected did not materialize.
I kept him on the first round of my mock because I think when he gets to the all star games and workouts he will shine. Teams will see the big, fast, physical specimen and a 3-4 team will snatch him up early. I’d have to say that now though, his likely highwater mark will be the second round and he just may find himself going in rounds 4-5. If that’s the case, someone is getting one helluva steal.
Pre Season Scouting Report
While Florida’s Brandon Spikes will garner more attention during the 2009 season as the Gator’s heavy hitter, Micah Johnson could be a better player.
The Kentucky senior finished 2008 with 93 tackles, 13.5 TFL and 3 sacks last year on his way to an All-SEC 1st Team pick by coaches and an Honourable Mention from the media, despite missing two games with an ankle injury. His three years at Kentucky are a showcase of Johnson’s numerous strengths. In his freshman year, 2006, Johnson ran for a TD against Clemson in Kentucky’s Motor City Bowl victory.
As a sophomore, Johnson displayed his speed and instincts in pass coverage, notching 5 PD and 2 INT. As a junior, he upped his TFL and sack totals from 4 and 0 to 12.3 and 3.
Johnson is incredibly gifted, capable of running with backs and outmuscling tightends. Johnson has good overall speed but he has elite burst and quickness and delivers a nasty blow. He has prototypical size at 6’2, 256 lbs and fills holes like a cement truck. Johnson possesses excellent strength, both upper and lower, popping blockers with a physical punch and creates space to explode towards the ballcarrier. He’s strong enough to drag down even the biggest runners and will bring down a runner using only his arms.
Johnson does not have many pass rush moves and relies more on strength and burst to get to the QB. That said, he can be devastating against the run, wreaking havoc in the backfield and blowing up schemes. He can stack and shed quickly and will pursue to both sidelines. Against the pass, Johnson can keep up with backs out of the backfield and run with any TE. He closes on the ball superbly and does a good job of getting his hands in to the receiver’s stomach to disrupt the catch.
I’m sure Johnson will take his status as senior defensive leader seriously as he’s as intense as they come. He plays with great emotion and fire, possessing the necessary intangibles to take advantage of his athletic gifts.
His intensity gets him in trouble on the field as he does not always maintain his gaps and will over pursue. He does not change direction that well but does compensate with his burst. His lack of change of direction is compounded by his inconsistent tackling. While he hits hard, he will miss a few going for the knockout punch and will dive to make a play. His instincts are developing and he’s getting by on athletic gifts, competitiveness and instincts right now.
Kentucky might be home to the best LB in college football. The potential is there for him to be great. I see similarities to Ray Lewis in Johnson: the burst, the intensity, game-changing abilities and an intimidation factor that should carry over to the pros.
Johnson needs to stay healthy, have a big year and lead Kentucky to its fourth straight Bowl win.
He is every bit as talented as Spikes and Penn State’s Sean Lee. Johnson is just as big and just as fast as Spikes and hits just as hard. Both should have fun duking it out in the SEC this year, September 26 will be a great chance for these two to battle to see who’s the best.