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Arizona Cardinals Potential Draft Pick: Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson, DE/OLB, Georgia TechMichael_johnson_medium

Height and Weight: 6'6", 266 lbs.  

Combine (& Pro Day) Results:

  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.68 (4.61)
  • 20-Yard Split: 2.68 (2.66)  
  • 10-Yard Split: 1.56 (1.54) 
  • Bench Press: 28 (23)  
  • Vertical Jump: 38 1/2
  • Broad Jump: 10' 8"
  • Short Shuttle: 4.37
  • 3-Cone Drill: 7.42 (7.42) 

Positives: If you look up physical freak in the dictionary, Johnson's picture will be right there next to Brian Orakpo, Vernon Gholston, Vernon Davis and perhaps the greatest combine warrior of all time Mike Mamula. Johnson was a top performer in four different categories at the combine (40, vertical jump, broad jump and 20 yard shuttle) staking his claim to one of the athletic defenders in this draft. An explosive first step, that's second to none, leaves plenty of offensive tackles hugging air and he's got the pure strength to be an effective bull rusher. His frame, as impressive at it is, can still add some bulk to his frame without effecting his quickness or top end speed. He uses his long arms well to keep opposing lineman away from his body and protect his legs. His height also allows him to bat down a fair share of balls and he's a punishing tackler who uses his hands well to strip opposing quarterbacks. He also dropped into coverage more often than most defensive ends so he has some experience in space.

Negatives: You're probably asking yourself why this amazing player isn't a top five or top ten pick, right? Well he's a classic underachiever who didn't become a full-time starter until his senior season and many say that he amassed most of his stats against lesser competition. Prior to his senior season he was basically a situational pass rusher and many think that he never abandoned that mindset. He routinely would run himself out of plays by abandoning his gap to take a speed rush lane. He can really get driven out of a play if a blocker gets under his pads and can at times be a complete liability against the run. At times he won't pursue plays that get by or go away from his position and his motor, intensity and commitment are constantly under question.

Overall: Johnson has as much potential as any defender in the draft but he's also had that potential his entire collegiate career and he didn't show any signs of realizing that potential until his senior campaign. Maybe he finally put it all together or maybe his senior season was just a 'contract year.' He'll have to get stronger to stand up against the run and develop a more competitive and tougher mindset to be an every down player in the NFL. Classic "boom or bust" prospect who could be Lawrence Taylor or Mike Mamula.

Projected Round: Late 1st to early 2nd

Why he should be an Arizona Cardinal...

Why he should be a Cardinal: For a team that needs pass rushers, Johnson could be a tremendous upgrade. At the worst case, Johnson would be a situational pass rusher who comes off the edge with the sole intention of getting to the quarterback. Time will tell if he develops into a complete player but he's got the tools and John Lott might be able to work wonders with a physical specimen like MJ.

How he fits into the Cardinals defense: With the defense that the Cardinals currently run, Johnson might actually fit rather well. In the 'predator' role (currently manned by LaBoy and Berry) his responsibilities would be rather limited and he could focus on what he does best. That could give him time to develop and the coaching staff time to determine whether he's a three-down player or just a pass rusher.Michael_johnson2_medium

Similar Players: Julius Peppers, Vernon Gholston

Player Quote: 

"I'll be happy with whomever takes me and they are going to be happy for taking me. Wherever I go ... I want to win. I've never won a championship and that's my main goal."