2012 NFL Draft: Cam Johnson, Diamond In The Rough?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Defensive lineman Cam Johnson of Virginia participates in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

One big position of need outside of wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars is at defensive end. Despite the fact that the Jaguars were able to bring back their leading sacker from last season in Jeremy Mincey, the team still needs another defensive end. It's possible Aaron Kampman could finally be healthy and return to the line up, but banking on a 30+ year old defensive end with two knee tears in two seasons would be a mistake.


Related: 2012 NFL Draft Vinny Curry: Stand Up Or Hand On The Ground?

The team also will appear to lose Matt Roth in free agency, so a defensive end will likely be high on their priority list for the NFL Draft. I mentioned previously in a mailbag Q&A that one of the defensive ends in the NFL Draft I really liked was Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson. I think he's going to be one of those mid-round picks who will be a nice solid pass rusher in the NFL.

For this write up, I'll be using Cam Johnson's matchup with Miami offensive tackle Brandon Washington. As always, the video is courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com. Johnson played three years at Virginia, playing his first two at outside linebacker before moving to defensive end his final year. He struggles against double teams, but can give offensive tackles fits in one-on-one match ups. He's position versatile, so 4-3 teams who like to do some things like blitz and drop ends into coverage, he will appeal there. He's very fluid standing up in short zones.

The first play I want to look at with Cam Johnson is a running play, which he plays well at times. Johnson is your classic right end mold at 6'3" and 270 pounds. On this particular play, it's a run wide to the left and Johnson instantly recognizes the play, fanning towards the sideline taking on the blocker and cutting off the outside lane. Playing it wide like he did, forces the run to be bounced back inside where Johnson can make the tackle for minimal gain. Johnson does a nice job on these type of runs and in backside pursuit. Where he'll struggle against the run is when a team runs right at him off-guard/center, as he can get washed out by stronger tackles.

This next play with Johnson lined up again at right end over Miami tackle Brandon Washington, Johnson blows right past Washington off the snap and Jacory Harris begins to roll to his right and rushes the throw. Johnson didn't necessary put a ton of pressure on Harris on the play, but it was enough to get him to move in the pocket.


Alfie Crow breaks down a few Cam Johnson plays.

Here is another play from Johnson where he gets some good pressure again along with his teammate and forces Harris up in the pocket. Johnson starts to bull rush Washington, but Washington lunges forward and allowed Johnson to get inside and towards Harris, who tries to scramble but is sacked on the play. Johnson also drew a holding call on the play.

I mentioned that Johnson can really struggle if he starts to get double teamed and this play right here is a good example of it. Washington shuts down the initial rush and then a lineman comes over late to help out and it looks like Johnson kind of just gives up on the play. There's not really much he can do, but you'd like to see him try to fight through it.

The last play I want to highlight is another play where Johnson doesn't get a sack, but he forces pressure and gets Jacory Harris out of the pocket once again. As you can see, Johnson cuts in to rush inside and gets around Brandon Washington bringing pressure up the middle and flushing Harris out of the pocket. Harris winds up throwing the ball down the field for a touchdown, but Johnson had an effect on the play.

Johnson I think is a player who will wind up being drafted in the middle of the second or the the third-round. He's got a lot of nice tools to work with coming in, but still needs refinement. He probably won't be able to start out of the gate, but he'll be a guy you can bring in on third downs or in blitz packages and set him loose on the quarterback.

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