2012 NFL Draft Prospects: Inside Look, Interview with Virginia DE Cam Johnson

Dan Hope@Dan_HopeContributor IIIFebruary 24, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Cam Johnson #56 of the Virginia Cavaliers against Clint Moseley #15 of the Auburn Tigers during the 2011 Chick Fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Cam Johnson is one of the most well-rounded defensive end prospects in the 2012 NFL draft. He is not a star pass-rusher, but he has the ability to get into the backfield and make plays and is solid against the run.

In my rankings for the 2012 NFL draft, Johnson ranks as the No. 7 defensive end and No. 84 overall prospect.

I had the opportunity to speak with Johnson this past Saturday. This coming Monday, Johnson is set to take the field with the defensive ends at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.

Johnson characterized his preparation for the upcoming combine as “long days,” starting out at 6:30 a.m. and finishing between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Asked what he wants to show NFL scouts, coaches and executives at the combine, Johnson said he wants to display "my athleticism, what I can do physically, and the person I am off the field.”

Johnson also participated in last month’s Senior Bowl, which he called a great experience.

"I got to go up against some of the better guys in college football," he said. "I feel like I competed to the best of my ability, and did as well as I could.”

Johnson primarily played defensive end in a 4-3 defensive scheme at Virginia, but he also has experience playing linebacker, playing there in Mobile, Ala. at the Senior Bowl. While Johnson would remain at defensive end if drafted by a team that runs a 4-3 defense, he would convert to outside linebacker on a team that runs a 3-4 defensive scheme.

Johnson spoke of no preference as to which defense he plays in at the next level.

“I’ve had experience with both (4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker)," he said, "and I feel comfortable playing in both schemes, so I feel like I have that versatility to be able to play both.”

Johnson describes himself as “a versatile player that is strong at the point of attack, has a great get-off and gets after the quarterback.”

Johnson’s self-description is accurate; while he is not going to be a star pass-rusher at the next level, he is versatile, can take on offensive linemen well at the point of the attack and does a great job getting off of the line of scrimmage to make plays.

Asked who the toughest offensive lineman was that he faced this year, Johnson did not name anyone specifically, but he characterized his opponents as “big competition this year.”

Regarding Johnson’s influences in the National Football League, he said, “As a defensive end, you have to watch Julius Peppers and DeMarcus Ware, so I try to see some of the things that they do and put it in my game sometimes.”

Johnson also said that he has no preference as to which NFL team he plays for, saying that he is willing to play for any team that wants and needs his help.

Johnson’s journey toward the 2012 NFL draft continues on Monday, when he will take the field with many of the top defensive ends in the draft class at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind.

Thanks for reading!

This is the fifth of five articles featuring exclusive interviews with NFL draft prospects that I conducted last weekend. Check out the others at the following links:

Monday: Louisiana-Lafayette TE Ladarius Green

Tuesday: East Carolina QB Dominique Davis

Wednesday: Iowa WR Marvin McNutt

Thursday: Memphis G Ronald Leary

For more coverage of the 2012 NFL draft, follow me on Twitter @Dan_Hope.