Derrell Johnson, OLB, East Carolina (HT: 6’1 1/2”, WT: 260 lbs.)
- Well-built with proper bulk.
- Plays with great balance and pad level.
- Quick first step off the ball from multiple defensive stances.
- Active and strong with his hands in all facets of his game.
- Has a plan as a pass-rusher and doesn't waste steps coming off the ball.
- Powerful beyond his means as a rusher due to leverage and ability to convert speed to power.
- Uses his hands well to ward off blockers after he gets into a gap.
- Has potential as a blitzer due to effectiveness splitting gaps and using explosiveness.
- Gets off blocks well despite lack of length.
- Maintains gap integrity by positioning himself well against blocks and finding the football early.
- Plays with high effort level in pursuit.
- Noted as a hard worker in the weight room and conditioning program at ECU.
- Experience in multiple defensive fronts.
- Severe lack of length, with arms right around 30”.
- Very little experience in pass coverage.
- Limited mover in terms of dropping from the line of scrimmage; must play downhill.
- Stiff hips limit coverage potential and ceiling of his athleticism.
- Easily negated if a pass-blocker gets his hands on the frame of Johnson.
- Not enough variance to his pass-rush moves; limited by short arms.
- Doesn't have great long speed to finish around the corner or close in the open field.
- Doesn't break down in space as a tackler and will miss on occasion.
- Lacks great range in pursuit to chase down ball-carriers.
- Little power as a tackler to quickly get ball-carriers to the ground.
- Not remarkably productive for a small-conference pass-rusher.
- May not clearly have a best position as a professional.
- 2012 second team All-Conference USA.
- 2013 second team All-Conference USA.
- Four-year starter for the Pirates; switched from end to outside linebacker when defensive scheme changed in 2011 season.
- East-West Shrine Game participant.
Derrell Johnson turned in a solid senior season, headlined by fine showings against Virginia Tech and North Carolina. He has shown some stellar traits through the process. He’s a physical specimen in terms of build and raw power. That plays into his functional strength as a defender who always has leverage on blockers. He’s also active with his hands.
His ability to become a better player than he is now is the biggest question mark. As a pass-rush specialist who lacks optimal height and length, he may only be able to go so far. His unique height-weight build could mean trouble at a traditional linebacker position. Defenses that employ a 3-4 scheme should be interested in Johnson’s services as a depth player. Contributions on special teams will be very important for Johnson as an NFL player.
Draft Projection: Seventh Round