NAME: Patrick Johnson
POSITION: Defensive End
WEIGHT: 255 pounds
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Patrick Johnson attended Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While there, he was a three year letterman. Johnson tallied 18 tackles and one tackle for loss in his junior season. Afterwards, he registered 51 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles. Johnson was subsequently rated as a two-star recruit by both 247Sports and Rivals.
After joining the Tulane Green Wave, Johnson appeared in all 12 games as a freshman in 2017, making one start. His role and production skyrocketed in 2018. Johnson led the team in sacks (10.5). That number also ranked 13th nationally and tied for the most among sophomores. He started in 12 of Tulane’s 13 games that season, and received American Athletic Conference all-conference honors. To boot in 2019, the defender started in all of Tulane’s games, despite battling injuries during the season. He led the team in sacks (four) and tackles for loss (8.5) for the second straight year. It was also the second year in a row that Johnson earned second team All-AAC honors. Even with a shortened season in 2020, he produced at a solid clip. Finishing with 36 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two pass deflections and forced fumbles apiece was a fine way to go out. He earned third team All-AAC honors.
When chasing the quarterback, Johnson moves quickly and surprises with his speed. He appears to have a solid and explosive first step out of his stance. This allows him to blow by blockers. Opposing offensive linemen are stressed at a rapid pace when trying to keep pace with him. Johnson understands how to take the quickest arc when rushing the passer as well. Rarely, does he get too far up the field. Meanwhile on run plays, he shows off smooth movement skills when moving laterally. Most of all, Johnson surprises opposing blockers and ball carriers with his quickness, especially as plays take a long amount of time.
His hands are heavy and can be used violently. Johnson is not well versed overall with handfighting and battling, however. There are plays where he attempts to run through stronger blockers. And he can still somehow get a hand on the quarterback or ball carrier. If he does not get that far, Johnson will attempt to get his arms in the way of the throwing lane. His strength actually shows up more in run defending plays, I believe. He is able to control his gap and the line of scrimmage. The defensive end does well to get his eyes up quickly and locate the football. He displayed a strong sense of knowing when to throw quick, heavy pops into the chest of opponents. Johnson just does so well at catching the offensive linemen off guard, especially with his attempts to overpower them.
If smart teams were aware of all the things that Johnson was able to do at Tulane, they could certainly use him in an advantageous fashion. As a pass rusher, he showed that he can rush from either a three point stance or a two point stance. Teams could also have the ability to move him around the defensive line. From wider alignments, Johnson is patient, yet urgent, in setting the edge. He can also clog up running lanes or rush the passer from interior gaps. Finally, Johnson proved to be effective when dropping back and then attempting to cover running backs out of the backfield.
Pass Rush Counters
Stringing pass rush moves together is a major work in progress for Johnson entering the NFL. He has attempted plenty of spin moves. Yet, they have usually not been very productive. Johnson will also try to use his quickness to run around blockers. This can cause him to lose his balance, if the offensive tackle is using patience and well timed hands at the point of attack. Moreover, Johnson can be taken out of the play immediately, if opponents look to double team him. His footing goes out of control and jump cut moves have little effect on gaining any ground into the backfield. The moves he can work with currently are a stab move or a bull rush. Teams may have some solid hand timing of Johnson’s to work with. Can they get him to find that more consistently, is a big question.
Hand To Hand Combat
Piggybacking off of that last paragraph a bit more, Johnson struggles with hand placement. He can come in too wide or too high on occasion. Thus, his chest can become exposed and his tilt angle is suddenly lost. Elsewhere, he does not have much secondary moves or an additional plan of attack, if thwarted instantly. In these situations, Johnson holds his hands low and near his hips. Opposing blockers are able to dictate which direction he goes fairly simply on those reps.
There are exciting flashes, where Johnson takes a swift arc around the edge when rushing the passer. Though, he does not present the bend and hip flexibility to do that regularly. When you take into account his lack of counter moves, this is a major area of improvement for Johnson. If he cannot win more by freeing himself in short areas, the lack of stops could arise. Johnson can also become too compact when battling opponents. His surface area decreases. Blockers are able to get their hands inside of him quicker, as a result.
Patrick Johnson enters the NFL, having produced solid production in many different areas of the field. He holds 120 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 21 sacks, 11 pass breakups and six forced fumbles to his name in 34 games played for Tulane. That combined with the versatility that teams could play with, make him a compelling fit for Kansas City. Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo may be looking to add even more multiple looks up front. After adding Jarran Reed to mix in with Chris Jones and Frank Clark, the team could truly have a bevy of options for which to play with. Johnson would be able to add speed and hand power to the defensive line. Additionally, his prowess as a run defender could also allow him opportunities early on in his career.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs draft prospect profiles throughout the next month. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.