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Austin Johnson

Discussion in 'Draft Talk' started by HardRightEdge, Mar 22, 2016.

  1. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    I've taken note of Billings, for whom there's some enthusiasm in these pages.

    He's in the mold of a true NT or strong side DT in the 4-3, and he looks NFL-ready. He's a space eater who shows some athleticism. While there's good depth at DT in this draft, it's a generally weak draft for first round talent nearly everywhere else...there's a very good chance he'll be gone by #27.

    As an alternative, and actually a preference, I'd suggest Austin Johnson, a guy commonly scouted with a second round grade, though he'd probably require a trade up by the Packers in round 2.

    Here's some tape against top competition:



    Here's the nfl.com scouting report that generally syncs with the tape, though I don't think the tape shows him holding ground in the way the scouting report describes:

    http://www.nfl.com/draft/2016/profiles/andrew-billings?id=2555267

    I like this guy a lot for the long haul, scheme fit and roster fit.

    He's scouted for second round because he's not week 1 NFL-ready like Billings as a run defender; you see him giving ground in the run game, getting pushed around in double teams, and not getting off blocks as quick as you'd like, but there's not much that needs to be done to improve that.

    He's playing high on most of these snaps. On a couple plays he sells out on the run and gets low to good effect. Seeing how the D-Line coaching fixed that with Pennel in one year, with Pennel being much rawer than Johnson coming in and something of mess in this regard, you'd think Johnson's pad level (McCarthy cliché notwithstanding) should show relatively quick improvement.

    Johnson is 6' 4" as is Pennel...these taller guys working in the interior often have to put in work in this regard for the NFL, but it's the kind of fixable flaw that creates draft value.

    Johnson did 25 lifts at the Combine, which is also consistent with the tape. NFL training can improve that. Besides, I'm not liking him for NT; I see him at DE but I'll get to that in a minute.

    Let's look at the positives:

    This guy is quicker and more athletic than Billings. He was an all-state basketball player his senior year in HS, which tells you something (and we know it says something to Thompson ;)). While that's on paper, the tape confirms the athletic profile. Further, you must love the 60 minute motor he puts on the field. He looks to be a better pass rusher than Billings right now.

    But like I said, I don't project him to NT as his best position, and I question whether that's the primary D-Line need.

    Start with Pennel. He may be the most underrated and unappreciated player on the roster, among fans anyway. With his jump in year 2, he gets my vote for most improved Packer player, and he ended the year still on an upward trajectory. And you don't draft on Day 1 to cover for a few early season games. Second, Guion did a fair amount of work at NT the last two years, and would be adequate as the short term starter and then Pennel backup/rotation guy.

    The question you have to ask is, "who's the strong side DE on this roster to pair with Daniels on the weak side?" The closest you get is Guion...not bad but not optimal. We still don't know if Ringo has game, and he seems small for the job. That's all there is.

    Given Johnson's quickness, you have to like what he might bring at 3-tech in the pass game with a little technique clean-up.

    He has somewhat short arms for a 6'4" man at 32 3/4" but pretty big hands at 9 7/8". Do with that what you will.

    He actually graduated from Penn St. with a journalism degree in 4 years, so he's no dummy. While intelligence is not particularly prized on the D-Line even in Packerland, it's a mark in the plus column.

    Did I say you must love his motor?

    I'd bang the table for this guy for this guy at the Packers second round pick if they have not already taken a D-Lineman in the first round. I doubt he lasts that long. Where he goes might even look like a reach to some, but then good value by year 2 and maybe sooner. As I said, Thompson would likely have to trade up for him. Capers is not the only guy who thinks athletic big men are hard to find.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  2. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    I thought I posted this in Draft Talk. My bad. Mods...you can do your thing.
     
  3. TeamTundra

    TeamTundra Cheesehead

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    I wouldn't mind Johnson as a 2nd round pick if we go LB in the first, but I think
    I would prefer Billings, Jarran Reed, or Vernon Butler in the first round to cover
    our DL needs. I believe Reed and Butler can play both NT and end in our defense.

    It will be interesting if both Ragland and one or more of the top DL are available
    when we pick.
     
  4. SoonerPack

    SoonerPack Cheesehead

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    I'd have to think Ragland if it plays out like that considering the dearth of quality, starter material ILB's in this year's draft. On top of that the amazing depth at the DL position should ensure a quality big (D) being available come Rd 2.
     
  5. jetfixer

    jetfixer Cheesehead

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    A second round pick, if we can get a play maker in the first, he would look good. I like Billings, but I think it will be harder to find a ILB or TE of quality than a inside DL.
     
  6. Vrill

    Vrill Cheesehead

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    There will be some interesting ILB prospects in the middle rounds. Alexander from Oklahoma is one of them. Morrison from Florida is another. Then you have Goodson from Clemson and Jones from LSU. Eric Striker from Oklahoma is another player that intrigues me.
     
  7. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    Austin Johnson would for sure be a nice pick-up but the Packers would most likely have to use their first-round pick to acquire him.

    FWIW Pro Football Focus had him graded as the third-best run stopper in college last season.
     
  8. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    How did PFF grade him in the pass game?

    For what it's worth, nfldraftscout.com has him ranked as the #8 DT in the draft with a 2nd. round grade:

    http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/players.php?genpos=DT&draftyear=2016&sortorder=tsxpos&order=ASC

    Walters grades him as the #11 DT:

    http://walterfootball.com/draft2016DT.php

    nfl.com grades him as the #17 DL with a 5.8 grade

    The nfl.com 5.8 grade ties for 51st. in the draft.

    http://www.nfl.com/draft/2016/track...t-tabs:dt-by-position/dt-by-position-input:dl

    None of the 11 mock drafters at nfl.com + cbs.com have him going in the 1st round to anybody.

    Walter Football has him mocked in the 3rd. round, going #84 to Washington. Walter always applies heavy need focus, so they may have more reaches in their analysis at other positions than will actually materialize.

    I had not looked at this stuff before, but on balance it syncs with my assessment that he'll go 2nd. round, probably above the Packers pick requiring a trade up...around the #50 mark I'd guess.

    Here's the thing: he had a poor Combine with the athleticism drills not measuring up to the tape. If one finds himself scratching his head and going back to the tape, that the kind of doubt/risk is likely to knock him out of the first round.

    The 25 lifts suggests more physical development is needed.

    Couple that with the high pad level (as seen in the Ohio St. tape) and it suggests a guy with who won't go first round.

    Be that as it may, given Packer depth issues, even if he's the same player he is today, he's good enough to be in the rotation for week 1, and he'd have an opportunity for accelerated development during the Pennel suspension. There's no substitute for regular season game action in the development process.

    Did I say I love his motor?
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
  9. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    I don't have any information about his pass rush grade but overall PFF graded him at +39.1 with a run stop grade of +36.1.
     
  10. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    Well, if the +36.1 ranked 3rd. in college football, it would stand to reason that pass grade is pretty good, which is where I see the real value-add in the 2nd. round, particularly for the Packers.
     
  11. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    It occurred to me to go look at what reports have to say about him at the Senior Bowl, and ran across the following:

    http://www.ninersnation.com/2016/1/...h-penn-state-dl-austin-johnson-at-senior-bowl

    "The San Francisco 49ers visited with Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl, and it looks like they had another visit. NFL.com college football writer Chase Goodbread is reporting the 49ers met with Penn State defensive lineman Austin Johnson. Goodbread said Johnson also met with the Packers, Chiefs, and Raiders."

    If memory serves, GM's are allowed 3 potential draftee visits to their facilities. And if memory serves, Thompson rarely ends up drafting the guys he invites. So is this Combine interview a kiss of death? ;)

    Further, this report may suggest SF may be looking at Ragland/Johnson for the first 2 rounds. If that's who they target, it would be something of a kick in the head in terms of limiting options, something we seem to see an annual basis drafting at the bottom of each round.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
  13. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    Teams are allowed to bring in 30 players for pre-draft visits. If I recall correctly Thompson mostly uses these on possible late-round or undrafted players.
     
  14. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    Thanks for that. That syncs with my analysis.

    DE, not NT, projection for 3-4; difficulty holding ground on double teams; struggles to anchor when he doesn't win initially. These issues go to the pad level and what the 25 lifts suggest.

    Note the conclusion:

    "Johnson has a unique skill-set that allows him to shed blocks, but he doesn’t anchor as well as you’d like for a 315-pounder. That may be something that can improve through technique and emphasis within a scheme, so he brings some versatility to the defensive line."

    That's exactly my conclusion in my "essay" above. As he is, he can contribute in the rotation right away, then I would not discount him developing more upper body strength and technique refinement to become more than that.

    With a developmental upside, I see him as a diamond in the rough, but with enough "rough" that he gets to the second round.

    Did I say I love his motor? ;)
     
  15. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    I guess I dropped the "0" ;). Mostly, yes, but not exclusively, and it seems to me the invites that get reported end up elsewhere.
     
  16. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    Last season the Packers drafted Aaron Ripkowski and Kennard Backman as well as signed undrafted free agents Matt Rotheram, Adrian Coxson, Ricky Collins, Mitchell Henry and Tavarus Dantzler after having them in Green Bay for a pre-draft visit.
     
  17. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    But not the upper round guys who got invites, from what I recall.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1

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