Name: Gary Johnson
CONFERENCE: Big 12
JERSEY: No. 33
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 225 lbs
Football Intelligence –Appears less confident in his reads when he’s forced to do so in tight spaces, more hesitant to break on the football as compared to when the opposing team spreads out the ball. He’ll guess at the mesh point and doesn’t show great consistency with his reads.
Tackling –He’s a powerful hitter. When he’s able to step into gaps uncontested, he’ll put a lick on you. His pursuit skills are quite strong but he generally doesn’t take the best angles, he’s overconfident in his ability to get home and will run himself out of a challenge.
Block Shedding –Doesn’t show a great level of extension skills to press and extend in an effort to clear his chest. Irregular results when trying to attack with his hands and he’s generally more of a pad thumper than anything else. Feel for finding the football vs. contact is modest.
Competitive Toughness –His linear explosiveness will catch eyeballs, when he’s stepping down he’s got a lot of juice to him and can really dictate reps. His ability to press off blockers and unclear his frame is compromised when he’s looking to play sideways.
Lateral Mobility –His linear speed is good, so once he’s able to flip open his hips and accelerate, he’s got some good range. That said, he opens himself up for overrunning the play when he flies open off the back end to that capacity. Short area scrapes are sufficient to step into a gap.
Coverage Skills –Pretty stale in this regard, he’s typically playing shallow zone between the tackles but doesn’t show a great level of hip hinge to get width for further landmarks. Has run out with RBs to play man to man coverage but his lack of fluidity can get him cut up in that capacity.
Gap Shooting Ability –If he’s given the green light immediately at the snap, he can be pretty effective thanks to his first step burst. Does well against 5-man protections to key guards and feel a crease, but his confidence wanes as there’s more bodies plugged up at the POA.
Feet/Change of Direction –He’s pretty sudden in getting started but he’s not the most fluid to collect himself. He plays a little reckless in pursuit and at times can overrun his landmarks without being able to redirect and pivot back into the play.
Flexibility –Doesn’t show a whole lot of tilt or lean. Instead his angles are rounded and he loses speed trying to chase down plays off the backside if the edge isn’t set to the front of the play. Doesn’t showcase a lot of hip hinge and mobility in space.
First Step Quickness –He’s got a great release out of his stance. When he decides it is time to go, he can get on his horse in no time and jump into the backfield. Has some disruptive qualities as a blitzer to overwhelm heavy footed OL at the snap.
BEST TRAIT – First Step Quickness
WORST TRAIT – Block Shedding
BEST FILM – Baylor (2018)
WORST FILM – USC (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
A JUCO product, Gary Johnson has several qualities that could sell a team that he is an NFL LB. Johnson’s restrictions are cause for concern, however. Johnson seems less reactive in tight spaces and does not do well to discard of blocks at the point of attack. In addition, Johnson doesn’t present a lot of range in space to help defend against the pass. Johnson needs to land in a system that emphasizes clean LBs if he’s to further develop and stick in the NFL.
PROS: Extremely high effort player, hard pursuit who works as hard as anyone on the field. Good blitzer in space, closes pocket well. Pretty good lateral movement necessary for the linebacker position. Can side step potential blockers to avoid and continue attacking ball carrier. Aware player who can finish blitzes and play in space. Can block destruct and shed.
CONS: Needs to shed blocks in a more immediate way, and can be slower to react. Has a tough time sifting through the trash in pursuit. Doesn’t attack the line of scrimmage and plus gaps very well. Can take questionable paths to the ball. Will get stoned in pass rush and doesn’t have any counters. Can be too patient before reacting.