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2015 NFL DRAFT
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Antonio Johnson

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 310 | College: Mississippi State
 
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Overview

Johnson is an emerging talent whose statistics don't offer a true value for what he brings to the middle of the line. Used mostly to occupy multiple blockers, his success in doing so generally saw a teammate free to come up with the big play.

He is a versatile athlete with experience at the basic defensive tackle position, in addition to nose guard, but is more ideally suited for a two-gap alignment. With only five games of starting experience at the Division 1-A level, this former junior college product is still a work in progress. But with his size and quickness, many scouts feel that patient coaching will help him be a productive performer at the professional level.

Johnson played football just briefly during his career at Leland High School and did not step onto the field as a senior. With minimal football experience, he enrolled at Mississippi Delta Community College upon graduation. He earned All-American honorable mention from J.C. Gridwire as a sophomore in 2004. He was ranked No. 24 on the Jackson Clarion-Ledger list of the top junior college prospects in the state of Mississippi following that season.

He also ranked among the top 87 defensive linemen in the country, a group that includes both high school and junior college prospects. Johnson played in a rotation of five defensive tackles during his junior college career, making 20 tackles with five sacks and three forced fumbles in 2004.

Heavily pursued by Iowa State, Johnson decided to instead enroll at Mississippi State in 2005. He was a reserve nose guard and defensive tackle, coming up with 15 tackles (7 solos). He had 2.5 sacks, three stops behind the line of scrimmage and a pressure.

Johnson split time at nose guard with Andrew Powell in 2006, starting against Auburn, Alabama-Birmingham, West Virginia, Jacksonville State and Georgia. He posted 21 tackles (9 solos) with four stops for losses, as he blocked one kick and recovered two fumbles.

In 22 games at Mississippi State, Johnson started five times. He recorded 36 tackles (16 solos) with 2.5 sacks for minus-10 yards, seven stops for losses totaling 20 yards and one quarterback pressure. He recovered two fumbles and blocked a kick.

Analysis

Positives: Well-built athlete with good chest thickness, broad shoulders, smooth muscle tone, long limbs and a frame that can carry at least another 15 pounds with no loss in quickness … Shows very good explosion off the snap and has the strength to gain leverage, keeping his hands active in attempts to play off blocks … Has the lateral agility to work his way down the line and gets advantage with his sudden initial step … Has the leg drive and lower body power to split double-team blocking, but needs to use his hands better to disengage … When he does land with his hands, he demonstrates the power to shock and push the blockers back on their heels … Takes good angles and slants on the bull rush and is disruptive in the backfield on short-area pursuit … Adequate at reading screens and draws and closes quickly once he locates the ball … Uses his lower body power and size to plug the gaps and has the strong anchor at the point of attack that make it tough for single blockers to move him out … Wins most one-on-one battles and when he plays with his pads low, he will maintain leverage … Hits with good authority, dragging down ball carriers hard … Has the short area burst to flush the quarterback out of the pocket and steps up to fill the rush lanes with authority … Has the size and strength to push the pocket and a nifty inside spin move to create the sack … More active with his hands in attempts to defeat blocks and showed improvement in attempts to push to separate … More sudden than relentless in his pass rush pursuit.

Negatives: Despite his great speed, he does not show that relentless effort to function at a high level on every play … Even though he has impressive power, he plays "soft" coming off the snap when he fails to keep his hands inside the frame or not use his arm swipes to shed … Slow to digest plays as they develop and struggles to grasp blocking schemes … Struggles with academics and needs more than several reps to retain plays … Has a good burst off the snap, but is quickly washed out of the play when he gets too tall in his stance and too narrow in his base … Has just minimal pass rush moves and tends to stop on contact, hesitating and gathering a bit before redirecting … Lacks football instincts, taking too long at times to diagnose the plays … Has good upper body strength, but poor hand placement in attempts to shed are further compounded by his penchant to go under blocks rather than working over down blocks … Will use a decent spin move to counter on the bull rush, but needs to keep his hands more active in attempts to shed and separate from blocks quickly at the point of attack … Will cross his feet and get too narrow in his base when having to generate long pursuit … Despite his strength, he will lose his feet when trying to split double teams or when taking on blocks directed right at him.

Compares To: LARRY TRIPLETT-Buffalo … Like Triplett, Johnson has the foot speed and quickness to penetrate and gain initial advantage. He is a typical two-gap player who works well in space, but it does take him time to recognize the play and he lacks a good feel for blocking schemes. His inability to grasp a complicated playbook is a concern and he lacks a feel for locating the ball like Triplett. Still, his size/speed will factor into where he goes on draft day.

Career Notes

Made at least one tackle behind the line of scrimmage in seven of 23 games he played in for the Bulldogs. In six of those contests he played as a reserve.

2006 Season

Named the team's Most Improved Defensive Player … Shared nose guard duties with Andrew Powell, starting vs. Auburn, Alabama-Birmingham, West Virginia, Jacksonville State and Georgia … Recorded 21 tackles (9 solos) with four stops for losses of 8 yards, as he blocked one kick and recovered two fumbles.

2006 Game Analysis

South Carolina … Opened the season with three solo tackles, including one that stopped Mike Davis for a 1-yard loss on a rushing attempt at the SC 31 four minutes into the game … Head to Head Competition-OC#60-Chris White.

Auburn … In his first career start for the Bulldogs, Johnson posted a pair of tackles … Head to Head Competition-OC#50-Joe Cope.

Tulane … Added two tackles, assisting Titus Brown in stopping Ray Boudreaux on a third-&-7 run with 3:08 left in the first half … Head to Head Competition-OC#65-Michael Parenton.

Alabama-Birmingham … Started, coming up with four assisted tackles … Head to Head Competition-OC#53-Jake Seitz.

Louisiana State … Had only one assisted tackle, but recovered a fumble by QB JaMarcus Russell at the LSU 43 with 1:39 remaining in the second quarter … Head to Head Competition-OC#74-Brett Helms.

West Virginia … Returned to the starting lineup with two tackles and joined Michael Heard in taking Steve Slaton down for a 2-yard loss on a third-&-7 run with 6:32 left in the third quarter … Head to Head Competition-OC#76-Dan Mozes.

Jacksonville State … Produced no tackles while starting the game … Head to Head Competition-OC#71-Ronald Murray.

Georgia … In his final collegiate start, Johnson made one assisted tackle … Recovered a fumble at the Georgia 27 after receiver M Mohamed Massaquoi was stripped of the ball when he was tackled by MSU's Jeramie Johnson on a second-&-7 pass from Matt Stafford midway through the third quarter … Head to Head Competition-OC#70-Nick Jones.

Kentucky … Followed with one assisted tackle while returning to reserve duty … Head to Head Competition-OC#62-Matt McCutchan.

Alabama … Did not record any tackles … Head to Head Competition-OC#59-Antoine Caldwell.

Arkansas … Registered three tackles (2 solos) … Took down Felix Jones for a 1-yard loss at the Arkansas 11 on an early second quarter run … Chased down Jones on a 51-yard kickoff return midway through the second quarter … Blocked a 24-yard field goal try by Jeremy Davis that was ruled a touchback with 2:09 left in the game … Head to Head Competition-OC#63-Jonathan Luigs.

Mississippi … Closed out his career with two tackles, including one that leveled B.J. Green-Ellis for a 3-yard loss on a second-&-10 screen pass from Brent Schaeffer four minutes into the second half … Head to Head Competition-OC#51-Corey Actis.

2005 Season

Played in eleven games, serving as the team's primary reserve at both nose guard and defensive tackle during his first season at Mississippi State … Recorded 15 tackles (7 solos) with 2.5 sacks for minus 10 yards and three stops for losses totaling 12 yards … Also credited with one quarterback pressure.

2005 Game Analysis

Murray State … Assisted in sacking QB Ken Topps for a 1-yard loss and made two tackles in his MSU debut.

Kentucky … Had a season-high three tackles (2 solos), including a 2-yard sack of QB Andre' Woodson.

Alabama … Followed with two solo tackles and a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage, including an 8-yard sack of QB Brodie Croyle.

Arkansas … Matched his season-high with three tackles.

Auburn, Tulane, Georgia, Louisiana State and Mississippi … Made one tackle in each game.

Injury Report

No injuries reported.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.93 in the 40-yard dash … 380-pound bench press … 580-pound squat … 340-pound power clean … 33 3/4-inch arm length … 9 3/8-inch hands … Right-handed … 8/20 Wonderlic score.

Junior College

Attended Mississippi Delta (Moorhead, Miss.) Community College (2003-04), playing football for head coach Jay Miller … Earned All-American honorable mention from J.C. Gridwire as a sophomore in 2004 … Ranked No. 24 on the Jackson Clarion-Ledger list of the top junior college prospects in the state of Mississippi following that season … Also ranked among the top 87 defensive linemen in the country, a group that includes both high school and junior college prospects … Played in a rotation of five defensive tackles during his junior college career, making 20 tackles with five quarterback sacks and three forced fumbles in 2004.

High School

Played football just briefly during his career at Leland (Miss.) High School for head coach Eugene Sanders, but did not step onto the field as a senior.

Personal

Teaching and Coaching major … Son of Thomas Johnson … Born Antonio Rico Johnson on 12/08/84 in Leland, Mississippi.

 
 

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