Derrell Johnson NFL Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report and More

Darren PageFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2014

Dec 23, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; East Carolina Pirates linebacker Derrell Johnson (56) works out prior to the game against the Ohio Bobcats during the 2013 Beef O Bradys Bowl at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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.
Collegiate Statistics


Personal Notes

  • 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.


Ratings Chart

Graph made at



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