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Is Florida State's Jermaine Johnson II Lions EDGE Defender of the Future?

Read more on whether Florida State EDGE defender Jermaine Johnson II should be a draft target for the Detroit Lions.

In today’s game, on the defensive side of the football, it all comes down to being able to get to the quarterback and defend against the pass.

One such prospect who has a reputation for getting to the QB is Florida State EDGE rusher, Jermaine Johnson II. 

After transferring to FSU, Johnson exploded with 12 sacks (ranked No. 7) in 2021. Previously, Johnson only had mustered up a combined 6.5 sacks in his two seasons at Georgia. 

Scouting is similar to being a private investigator. Every play on film and every stat provide clues to how good a prospect really is. 

Where was the sack production Johnson put up at FSU when he was at Georgia?

Johnson is originally from Eden Prairie, Minn. He went on to play at Last Chance U’s Independence Community College. From there, as the No. 1 rated JUCO prospect in the nation, he transferred to Georgia

Because of his sack production at the collegiate level, Johnson popped on to Pro Football Focus’ first-round mock draft this month out of nowhere. Interestingly, Johnson was not listed on PFF’s top 100 prospects list in September, and he was not included in any of PFF’s first-round mocks during the football season.

On January 17 (just four days ago), PFF ranked Johnson 42nd on its top 150 prospects list. Now suddenly, PFF is projecting him to go No. 29 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Detroit is sitting at the 28th overall selection (courtesy of the L.A. Rams), and there is no question the team needs to improve its pass rush. The Lions finished ranked 31st in sacks produced this past season, averaging a meager 1.8 sacks per game. 

Is Johnson the right guy to boost Detroit's pass-rush productivity in 2022?

The short answer is no. 

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#11 Jermaine Johnson II - 6-foot-5, 262 pounds 

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2021 game film reviewed: North Carolina, Miami (Fla.) and North Carolina State

Grade: Fifth round 

Scouting Report

Soft, lanky and athletic pass rusher, with very average playing speed. He's a limited-area run defender. There is absolutely nothing special about his ability. 

Versatile. Flipped from left to right side. Stands up or plays with hand in the dirt. Noticeable rigidity in hips. Stiff. No explosiveness at the point of attack. Uses combination of excellent hand usage and natural strength to get a decent push, but lacks the pure, brute power to put tackles on skates. Flashed spin move. 

Most of the time, pass rush is unimaginative and vanilla. Average bend. Lacks the necessary speed to consistently win at the back door. Hung out to dry on the perimeter way too often. 

Makes it being an opportunistic hustler. Low-grade pressure guy. Lack of hip flexibility showed up in pocket when he was unable to make the necessary quick adjustments to get to the passer. No short-area burst when closing. Better looking against the run. Decent at disengaging when the play is in his area. Hard and solid wrapping tackler. Flashed a couple tackles for loss when he was in the right place at the right time. Try-hard camp guy who will make himself tough to get rid of. 

It was challenging grading Johnson. It is hard not to like him. It is hard not to like Johnson’s path and how he has fought his butt off to get to this point. 

Johnson plays hard, and he gives it everything he has on every down.

Yet, at the end of the day, this is about projecting talent. 

Johnson maxed out against collegiate competition. His limitations caused him to barely be able to win against college-level talent, and he was part of the scenery way too often. 

That does not bode well for him, as he prepares to move on to the next level.