Jermaine Johnson Reminded Jets of 7-Time Pro Bowl D-End

Jermaine Johnson

Getty New York Jets rookie defensive end Jermaine Johnson II on draft night.

Leading up to the 2022 NFL draft, there were so many rumors and theories but one name kept coming up as a prospect that appeared to be high on the New York Jets’ board.

That player was Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II, and the speculation ended up proving accurate when Gang Green traded back into the first round to snag the NFL defensive end.

Months later, the Jets finally aired their offseason docu-series, “Flight 2022: New Heights,” and the behind-the-scenes look provided some more context as to why the organization was so enamored by Johnson.

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All-Pro Potential

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich has previously told reporters that he spoke with his Georgia ties before concurring that the Jets draft Johnson. It was important for the coaching staff to understand why the talented pass rusher left an elite college football program to join the ACC — which is by no means bad, but a step down in overall competition.

It turns out that the decision-makers were always intrigued by Johnson’s skill set but they had to confirm he had the right mindset and personality. This became clear during episode four of “Flight 2022,” after the NYJ war room broke down “J.J.’s” ability on the field and defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton made a bold player comparison.

“Strong points: straight-line speed and burst,” Whitecotton began. “Biggest strong point I see in Jermaine is his pass-rush instinct and arsenal. Great length, sudden lateral movement, he makes game-changing plays for Florida State… When I studied this guy, his game, his pass-rush game reminded me of [Cameron] Jordan. That dude understands how to rush, he understands how to set guys up, and he rushes with power.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with the New Orleans Saints superstar, Jordan is a seven-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro. He is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-2010s Team and has accomplished 100-plus career sacks at 107.0.

Like Johnson was at Florida State, Jordan is also one of the most well-rounded defensive ends in the NFL with 573 career tackles, 137 tackles for a loss, 56 passes defended, 206 QB hits, 13 forced fumbles and two interceptions.

Few pro comparisons would serve as a higher form of flattery than this and if Johnson turns out half as good as Jordan, most Jets fans will be ecstatic.

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Can’t Teach Confidence

Later in the behind-the-scenes segment, national scout Jay Mandolesi added that Johnson can be a “difference-maker in the run game” and is a “freak-looking dude physically.” Some of the other members of the front office personnel chimed in too, voicing:

  • “He can win around the outside hip, flatten and finish.”
  • “I love his motor.”
  • “I thought his football IQ was good… he’s high on the STI scale — speed, toughness and instincts.”
  • “Star power in his personality and presence… natural confidence to him.”
  • “I see him as a high-impact starter.”

Ulbrich even stated that he “love[s] this kid” and the juiciest tidbit of all came from general manager Joe Douglas, who admitted that Johnson told him to “trade up to get me.” Naturally, the Jets GM was impressed by his moxie.

After okaying it with owner Woody Johnson on draft night, Douglas did just that, trading up to steal his staff’s “eighth-rated player” at pick No. 26 overall.

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