If you’re anything like me, you probably weren’t completely satisfied with the New York Jets draft until they selected a pass rusher. That’s why the first-round trade-up for Jermaine Johnson II was so important — it tied the entire round together.
For general manager Joe Douglas, it went from a very solid first round to one that stole headlines as the talk of the league. NFL draft expert Daniel Jeremiah tweeted that the Jets came away with three of his top nine players in the entire draft! So why did Johnson drop to No. 26?
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Chandler Jones Alerts Teams of Their Mistake
With only one year as a full-time starter and a meteoric rise into the top 10, Johnson became a polarizing prospect for fans and analysts. In the end, he did fall toward the back-end of the first round and the Jets were ready to pounce.
The drop on draft night was a bit of a surprise based on reports throughout the week, and it even caught the attention of one NFL superstar at the position. Two-time All-Pro Chandler Jones spoke on behalf of Johnson after the draft.
“Many teams will regret not getting Jermaine Johnson that kid is gunna be goooood!” Tweeted Jones.
Several analysts agreed, including draft expert Todd McShay, who called the defensive end “an instant impact player.”
Jets 2020 first-rounder Mekhi Becton also chimed in. He tweeted: “Been a fan since last chance u glad you’re my teammate bro!!!”
Becton is referencing Johnson’s humble beginnings with the JUCO documentary series on Netflix, “Last Chance U.” His journey from community college to the NFL’s first round is a legendary one, and quite the accomplishment to build on.
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Johnson Was Productive at Florida State
The Seminoles pass-rusher first transferred to Georgia after his time in JUCO, but he didn’t earn as much playing time with the Bulldogs so he decided to journey to the ACC for his senior campaign.
At Florida State, Johnson was more productive than most of the top edge rushers in the nation with 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss in 12 games. Some fans put a ton of focus on his overall pressure rate being lower than players like Kayvon Thibodeaux, but the actual sack numbers were there.
Johnson is also a stout run defender with 70 total tackles in 2021. NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein compared him to Maxx Crosby and noted that he “has NFL traits and the potential to keep getting bigger and better as a pro.”
He continued: “Johnson’s blend of strength and athleticism should make him a firm edge-setter and playmaker near the line of scrimmage for odd or even fronts.”
At this point, Johnson still has a lot to prove based on his draft status, but he’s turning the right heads. For starters, he won over head coach Robert Saleh and Douglas’ staff at the Senior Bowl, and Jones is no slouch. With 107.5 NFL sacks to his name, I’d say the former Super Bowl champ is as good a judge as anyone.