What does Jermaine Johnson bring to the New York Jets?
A potential option for New York with the 10th pick, Jermaine Johnson surprisingly fell into the twenties, where Douglas ended his fall by trading up to draft him with the 26th overall pick.
It was widely anticipated that the Jets would look to add a difference-making edge rusher with a premium resource at some point in the offseason. Johnson turned out to be their guy.
Adding Johnson to a front four alongside Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams, and John Franklin-Myers gives the Jets a potentially great group.
Here are some of the most important things for Jets fans to know about Johnson.
Pre-draft measurables and production
Johnson had himself a tremendous pre-draft process between the Senior Bowl and scouting combine.
Standing at 6-foot-4 and 254 pounds with long 34″ arms, Johnson brings good size to the edge of the Jets’ defensive line.
Johnson tested very well athletically with a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.22. He ran incredibly well with a 40-yard dash time of 4.58 and a 1.59 10-yard split. He showed his explosiveness with an impressive 125″ broad jump.
In 2021, Johnson transferred to Florida State and attained immense success on the stat sheet. In 12 games, he recorded 11.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, and a whopping 70 tackles. Johnson also had five sacks in seven games in 2020 at Georgia.
Johnson offers talent as both a pass rusher and run defender. He is able to contribute in both phases because of his nonstop effort on a play in, play out basis.
Jermaine Johnson's acceleration after contact is excellent – this is the kind of intensity he brings snap after snap pic.twitter.com/5aZWCYi9P8
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) April 8, 2022
Starting with his run defense (arguably Johnson’s biggest strength currently), he plays with a great motor, strength, and toughness. Johnson uses his size and physicality to stop the run on the edge. He will help improve the Jets run defense, one that struggled greatly a year ago.
#FloridaState DE Jermaine Johnson had another standout day on Saturday with 3.0 sacks. But I think this was my favorite play from the top-50 prospect.
Awareness + Pursuit angle + Speed + Open-field finish = 5-yard loss. 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/gJK3rnc3NG
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) November 15, 2021
As a pass rusher, Johnson offers some good traits. When he has a well-coordinated plan, he will win with effective hand technique and different moves.
#FSU EDGE Jermaine Johnson II has a lot of traits to get excited about. Power rusher that has high levels of strength as an edge setter and pass rusher. Executes a nice push-pull move and finish here with a strip sack TD vs. Clemson. pic.twitter.com/m3u8cp1qhn
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) December 10, 2021
Johnson uses his size, length, and athletic ability to win. When rushing the quarterback, he shows some explosiveness off the snap with enough speed, bend, and power.
This is an elite high side rush by Jermaine Johnson, IMO
He’s flattened high side at 9yards (quick inside step to get OTs feet to stop and then a club/swim). Nice bend/ankle flexion on the corner
This is a sack/fumble 50% of the time… pic.twitter.com/yVQe5jd43U
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 12, 2022
Expect a good amount of reps for Johnson along the Jets defensive front early on in his rookie year. With his refined run defense, an area where the Jets struggled significantly a year ago, Johnson will immediately make his impact felt.
On passing downs, it will be intriguing to see what Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich’s plan is for Johnson. With Carl Lawson, Jacob Martin, Bryce Huff, Vinny Curry, and Micheal Clemons all being better pass rushers than run defenders, how the Jets mix and match all these players will be worth watching.
Even with all of that talent and depth, anticipate Johnson getting a chunk of pass rush opportunities where he will help the Jets defense.
Ideally, Johnson builds off an incredible 2021 season. Despite his older age of 23, Johnson only had one year of significant playing time at the FBS level which hopefully gives him more room for improvement.
Johnson’s floor as a prospect is relatively high. His ability to stop the run gives him a strong chance of being a contributing player with the Jets for years to come.
More polish as a pass rusher will be key for Johnson to max out his potential and be one of the best edge defenders in football. If Johnson can work on a more consistent plan of attack where he can use his solid technique and multitude of moves, then he has the frame, athleticism, and demeanor to be great.
The Jets are getting a strong character individual in Johnson. In his lone year at Florida State, Johnson was given a substantial role and respected for his leadership.
Last summer, at the ACC Kickoff event, Johnson discussed how his experience being at Last Chance U allows him to lead.
“I’ve been through a lot during my whole football career. I know how to persevere through anything. I think that just naturally puts me in a role to lead.”
Discussing his off-field role for the upcoming year with Florida State, Johnson said, “From the players to the coaching staff, they’re entrusting me with a ton of different things and a leadership role, and I don’t take that lightly. I know what comes with that. The team trusts me in that role, and I can’t let them down in that sense.”
Everything Joe Douglas typically looks for in draft picks from an intangibles standpoint, Johnson provides.
Down the road, getting Johnson with the 26th overall pick could very well prove to be strong value for the Jets. He looks to be a key young piece for the Jets’ future as both a leader and an anchor on the defensive line.
Having Johnson opposite of Carl Lawson on the edge gives the Jets some of the best talent they have had there in quite some time.
As a 23-year-old, Johnson has proven some great things and still has room to grow. He will be a day-one impact player stopping the run.
Developing his plan of attack as a rusher will be crucial, but overall, Johnson’s motor, athleticism, and frame give him the potential to be a successful pass rusher for the Jets over the long term.