Birthday: November 22, 1982
Derrick Johnson has sideline-to-sideline range, the smarts to make proper use of that speed, and the controlled recklessness to make his presence known when he reaches his target. The Waco native also has a knack for playing big in the big games – Johnson averaged over ten tackles per game against the Longhorn opponents that played in bowls last year.
Most of Johnson’s blitzes have come up the middle, allowing him to explode through the gap with a straight line to the quarterback. Texas’ new defensive staff plans on having him blitz from a wider variety of locations this season. As his four interceptions and nine pass breakups in 2003 show, Johnson is also effective in coverage. Johnson gave Tulane quarterback J.P. Losman, a first-round pick of the Bills, fits last year by picking off a pair of Losman’s passes, getting a hand on another two, and recovering a fumble that Losman coughed up.
Although Johnson has gotten bigger during his tenure in Austin, he is still on the light side for an inside linebacker. He lacks the strength to take on NFL linemen and would need to be protected. He is better suited for the 4-3 weakside position that he plays in college, where he can play in space, than the high-traffic area between the tackles.
Johnson is a potential impact player who may be the first linebacker drafted in 2005. The Texans can always use another player who can run and hit, but a team that runs a 4-3 defense will likely rate Johnson higher than do the Texans because he would better fit that scheme.
(profile written by Warren DeLuca)
Derrick Johnson’s 2003 Stats G TCK TFL SKS FF FR 13 125 20 2.0 1 3 Derrick Johnson Home