With their second pick in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Texas A&M linebacker Buddy Johnson.
Johnson, listed at 6-2 and 240 lbs, started all ten games for the Aggies in 2020. Johnson led the team in tackles (86), tackles for loss (8.5) and forced fumbles (2), while his 4.0 sacks total on the year ranked second on the team. Johnson was listed as a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, awarded to the nations top linebacker.
The Steelers were favored to take an inside linebacker at some point in the draft, although the depth at the position led many to believe it would be a position addressed on the third day of the draft.
Scouting report via NFL Draft Bible:
"A rough and tough old-school linebacker who showcases great processing quickness and the power in his hits to get the job done, Johnson makes up for his average athleticism when he hits the field. He does a great job of taking on blockers and working his way through them to find the ball and he isn’t fazed when he has to go head-to-head against more physical offensive linemen. His positioning is usually on the money, taking excellent angles working downhill and to the perimeter. Johnson isn’t going to be for every team, as he’s already maxed out physically. His coverage ability will simply be sufficient, but will never be a strength. Teams that prioritize versatility from linebackers might not be as interested as a result of those average coverage abilities. With that said, Johnson has the makings of a future starter who can do his job and plug the starting MIKE role for an NFL team as an early-down run defender. Add in special-teams value and Johnson has the makings of a glue guy on a roster for years to come."
How he fits: With perrenial starters Devin Bush and Vince Williams already in their respective slots, it appears Johnson will have to battle for time among the likes of Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen for spare snaps. It appears his immediate impact will be seen on special teams while the depth at inside linebacker will allow him to develop before hitting the field on defense.