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Nico Johnson: 5 Things You Need to Know About Alabama LB

Gary DavenportFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2017

Nico Johnson: 5 Things You Need to Know About Alabama LB

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    After his career at Alabama, linebacker Nico Johnson will have to spend his first NFL paycheck on a jewelry box, as three of the four years that Johnson was in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide finished the season as BCS national champions.

    Over those four seasons in Alabama, Johnson developed into a very stout run defender, helping to anchor the inside of Alabama's 3-4 defense, and now the 6'2", 248-pounder is preparing to take the next step and make the move to the NFL.

    As he does so, here's a look at a handful of things you should know about Nico Johnson. 

Background

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    Hometown: Andalusia, Ala.

    High School: Andalusia High School (Andalusia, Ala.)

    Major: Criminal Justice

    Year: Senior

    Nico Johnson was a Parade High School All-American in 2008 and one of the nation's most prized recruits at the linebacker position, ranking second among linebackers, according to Rivals.com, and 32nd overall among all players.

    As head coach Nick Saban usually does, it was the Alabama recruiting machine that got Johnson to sign on the dotted line, with him choosing Alabama over LSU, Southern Cal, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Texas A&M and Tennessee.

Statistics

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    Nico Johnson made a quick impact as a freshman, playing in 12 games, making three starts and finishing the year as a member of the All-SEC freshman team.

    Johnson's role continued to grow as a sophomore, with Johnson starting six of 12 games, recording 33 tackles and recording the first interception of his collegiate career.

    That trend would continue as Johnson moved into a full-time starting role as a junior. In each of Johnson's four years in Tuscaloosa, his tackle numbers were better than the season before.

    Year

    Games

    Tackles

    TFL

    Sacks

    INT

    FF

    2009

    12

    28

    4.5

    1

    0

    1

    2010

    12

    33

    3.5

    0

    1

    0

    2011

    13

    46

    6.5

    1

    1

    0

    2012

    14

    55

    2

    0

    0

    2

    Stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

Draft Process

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    Measurables

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 248 lbs.

    Arm Length: 33.25"

    Hand Size: 9.25"

     

    Combine Results

    Did not participate

     

    Pro Day Results

    40-Yard Dash: 4.73 seconds

    Broad Jump: 9'2.5"

    20-Yard Shuttle: 4.47 seconds

     

    Surgery for a sports hernia prevented Nico Johnson from working out at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine and limited him at Alabama's pro day, but Johnson fared relatively well in the drills that he did participate in.

    Pro day results courtesy of Alabama.com.

Interesting Facts

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    Here's a look at some facts about Nico Johnson the football player, as well as Nico Johnson the young man.

    Johnson didn't take long to make his presence felt with the Crimson Tide, as in only his second career start Johnson tallied eight total tackles in a 2009 win over the Tennessee Volunteers.

    Johnson's best game from a statistical standpoint came in a 2012 matchup with rival LSU, a game in which Johnson tallied a career-high 12 tackles. It was the second straight year that Johnson had double-digit stops against the Tigers.

    According to NFL.com, Johnson's mother Mamie named him after a character on All My Children.

    Mamie Johnson passed away in 2010 at the age of 49, and head coach Nick Saban and several Crimson Tide players showed support for Johnson by attending the funeral.

    Saban spoke at the memorial service, stating that “Miss Mamie made me promise to make sure he did the things he needed to do to be successful. It’s not hard because of the job she did raising him.”

Observations

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    What are some of the industry's leading draftniks saying about Nico Johnson as the draft nears?

    Let's take a look:

    NFL.com: "A tough-nosed, assignment-sure linebacker, Johnson is a strong run defender who has been overshadowed as a part-time starter on a star-studded Alabama defense. However, his unselfish play has been noticed, and he will likely be a mid-round selection for a 3-4 team in need of a middle linebacker."

    Keet Bailey, NFL Soup: "Johnson isn’t going to wow you with speed and play-making ability, but he’s a sure, sound tackler on the field and he doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. He typically plays within the confines of his defense and simply does what is asked of him. His best role would be in the middle of a 3-4 at the next level, where he can freely blitz and help stop the run. If he’s put elsewhere, he’ll likely struggle."

    Ryan Alfieri, Bleacher Report: "Johnson's role in the NFL will be virtually the same as it was in college as a two-down run-stopper that will have to leave the field on third downs. Specifically, Johnson will start out as a "Will" linebacker on the weak side of a 3-4 front. His role in the NFL will be limited, but any player who can play on two thirds of a series at a high level has value to an NFL team."

    Rob Rang, CBS Sports: "Johnson isn't likely to hear his name called earlier than Day Three. He's not likely to earn a spot in a future Pro Bowl. Teams needing help defending the run, however, will be certain to scout him closely. Big and physical enough to handle the strongside role in the 4-3, as well as shedding blockers as an inside linebacker in the 3-4, he just might this year's most underrated "specialist" of the linebacker pool."

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