Nico Johnson to Kansas City: How Does Linebacker Fit with Chiefs?
The third day of the NFL draft is as much about addressing areas of need and adding depth as it is finding impact players or the next late-round superstar. The Kansas City Chiefs did an excellent job of filling a hole on their defense with the second pick of the fourth round.
With the 99th overall pick, the Chiefs selected Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson, who had 55 tackles and two forced fumbles for the national champions in 2012.
The Chiefs had a hole on the inside of their 3-4 defense next to star linebacker Derrick Johnson, and as Bleacher Report's own B.J. Kissel points out that's a hole that Nico Johnson should fill quite nicely.
There's our thumper, SILB. Nico Johnson. 2-down player. Run stuffer. #Chiefs— BJ Kissel (@bkissel7) April 27, 2013
Kissel is spot-on. Nico Johnson is a prototypical SILB in a 3-4 front, a 248-pound thumper who NFL.com calls an "Assignment-sure pounder between the tackles who plays with attitude."
Johnson has the size and strength to sort through the "trash" on the inside and take on fullbacks and even guards. Not only will that likely improve the middle of the Kansas City defense, especially against the run, but Johnson's ability to keep blockers occupied should free up Derrick Johnson to make more plays for Kansas City.
There's also the not-so-insignificant fact that Johnson played in a 3-4 defense while with the Crimson Tide, which will considerably shorten his learning curve where acclimating to the NFL is concerned.
That shortened learning curve, and a lack of talent ahead of him on the depth chart, all but certainly means significant snaps as a rookie for Johnson. The likes of Zac Diles and Akeem Jordan aren't going to keep Johnson off the field for long.
How would you grade the selection of Nico Johnson by the Kansas City Chiefs?
That isn't to say that there aren't holes in Johnson's game. He's not the most fast or agile of players, and that lack of quickness will all but certainly result in Johnson leaving the field in passing situations for the Chiefs.
However, that doesn't change the fact that Johnson's a nearly ideal fit for what the Chiefs needed. There are other, more athletic inside linebackers still on the board, so I gave this pick a "B+" in my Chiefs draft tracker here at Bleacher Report, but that's just my opinion, and from a need standpoint this was a fantastic pick by Kansas City.
For many years, Johnson & Johnson have been making band-aids to cover up bumps and bruises.
Now, it looks like Johnson and Johnson are going to start causing some for the Chiefs.
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