The Philadelphia Eagles selected Patrick Johnson with pick No. 234 in the 2021 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about the Tulane defender, I reached out to SB Nation’s college blog that includes AAC coverage: Underdog Dynasty. The jolly Joe Broback was kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you recap his college career?
Patrick Johnson didn’t get the attention he deserved because Tulane’s often overlooked when it comes to college football. Arguably the best defender in the conference, his versatility allowed the Green Wave staff to move him around the field. Initially utilized as a linebacker, he quickly moved to an edge rusher/outside linebacker. Tulane asked him to do a lot of different things, and it seemed like he thrived quickly with any new task. Johnson finished his career with 132 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 21 sacks, 11 passes defended, and six forced fumbles.
2) What are his strengths?
There’s not a ton you have to fix with him. He’s a technically sound player who uses great technique to get to the ball carrier. If he’s rushing the passer, he switches things up frequently so the tackle he faces doesn’t get a read on what he’s going to do. Johnson has a lot of power in his frame, and is a master at using his hands well to get off blocks or around offensive tackles. If he lands a punch, he’s usually at an advantage right away.
3) What are his weaknesses?
His compact frame makes it tough for him to combat longer tackles, and at times his pass rush gets redirected. There are some limitations with his flexibility and burst, which can limit what he’s trying to do. Like a few other defenders from the conference, there might be questions about what position he’ll thrive at considering he did so many things for Tulane.
4) Are you surprised where he was drafted? Higher or lower than expected? Just right?
I thought he was going to be a Day 3 pick, so I’m not surprised he went in the seventh round. It feels like that was just the right spot for him to be taken.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out? Seems like the Eagles are trying to move him to linebacker.
Putting him at linebacker would be a smart move. I think if you have to pick one position for him, linebacker is the best spot. He did so many things at Tulane that he never got a chance to master anything. Placing him in one spot will allow him to figure out how those skills fit into his new position. He’ll be a solid player in the league mostly because he’s got the technique down. His ceiling appears limited, so it most likely won’t be a long career, but I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I’m wrong.
6) Anything to know about him off the field?
Nothing really to report. What you see is what you get with him.
BLG’s take: It was interesting to see the Eagles draft a player that many had pegged as a pure 3-4 edge rusher. Philly is listing Johnson as a 4-3 linebacker. There’s been some thought that, while nowhere near comparable to the talent, Johnson projects to be utilized in an Anthony Barr role. A strong-side linebacker who will see opportunities to blitz and rush the passer. Johnson won’t see much playing time as a rookie, assuming he even makes the roster at all. He could be a worthwhile developmental project.