For NFL teams looking to add to their linebacker corps this offseason, there are many potential Day 3 options in the upcoming draft. Texas A&M linebacker Devodrick “Buddy” Johnson offers an intelligent and experienced run stopper who could hear his name called in that range in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Buddy Johnson NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Texas A&M
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’0 1/2″
- Weight: 229 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Buddy Johnson Scouting Report
Positives: Hard-working, undersized linebacker who is best defending the run. Patient, stays with assignments, and quickly locates the ball handler. Breaks down well, uses his hands to protect himself, and fires up the field in run defense. Fluid moving laterally, slides off blocks and gets to the action making the tackle.
Negatives: Displays average skill in pursuit despite his 40 time. Best making plays up the field and in the box.
Analysis: Johnson is a run-and-chase linebacker with size limitations and a bit of a one-dimensional game. He’s a good fit inside a 3-4 alignment, and Johnson comes with a special-teams mentality.
Buddy Johnson Player Profile
Although he leaves Texas A&M as a linebacker prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, Johnson arrived in College Station as a multi-talented jack-of-all-trades. As a junior at Kimball High School in Dallas, he’d earned second-team All-District honors as a quarterback. The following year, his versatility was on full display as he found ever-increasing ways to contribute to the team.
Most high school players — unless they’re at a major powerhouse — play some dual role, lining up on both sides of the ball. However, Johnson transcended the standard expectation as a senior. He led Kimball in both rushing yards (472) and receiving yards (446). Furthermore, he added 268 passing yards. Johnson paired his impressive offensive production with first-team All-District honors at linebacker.
A three-star prospect who narrowly missed out on ranking as a top-50 player in the state of Texas, he naturally received plenty of attention. Local interest came from most in-state teams — all but Texas — as over 20 offers surfaced from across the nation. Ultimately, he would stay close to home to play linebacker for Texas A&M.
Johnson’s college football career at Texas A&M
Although he wouldn’t start until 2019, Johnson saw playing time in 12 games as a freshman. He made some plays from the linebacker position for Texas A&M, securing 20 tackles, a first career sack, and 3 quarterback hurries.
The season finale against LSU demonstrated his potential, with a career-high 9 tackles, 1 sack, and 1.5 tackles for loss. Despite adding 27 tackles — including 5 tackles for loss — in 12 games as a sophomore, it wouldn’t be until his junior season where he’d truly flex his defensive muscle.
As a full-time starter, Johnson led the Aggies with 77 tackles. Moreover, he’d sit third on the team with 9.5 tackles for loss. In a standout performance against Ole Miss, he racked up 10 tackles and recovered a fumble for a 62-yard touchdown. The score helped secure a Texas A&M victory and saw Johnson garner SEC Defensive Player of the Week merits.
Johnson finished his college career in style in 2020. Despite the shortened season, the Texas A&M product led the team in tackles (86), tackles for loss (8.5), and forced fumbles (2). He also generated 4 sacks while earning recognition as a semifinalist for the prestigious Butkus Award. A team captain in 2020, he displayed leadership on the field, both vocally and with his production.
Following the season, Johnson declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. He aims to be the first Texas A&M linebacker to be drafted to the NFL since Sean Porter in 2013.
Buddy Johnson’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Johnson adds value as a run-stopping, intelligent linebacker with special-teams experience. Some concerns over his long speed may have been addressed during his pro day. However, he is still at his best coming downhill against the run. Johnson played as the MIKE linebacker in Texas A&M’s 4-2-5 defense and could play a similar role in a 4-3 system or at inside linebacker in a 3-4 in the NFL.
Playing as a 3-4 linebacker, some team fits would be the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, and Los Angeles Rams. Alternatively, based on a 4-3 system, the Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, and New Orleans Saints may covet Johnson’s ability.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.