Tulane may not immediately spring to mind as a pipeline to the NFL. However, the Green Wave sent two players to the NFL Draft last year, and there’s a chance they will again this year. While Cameron Sample impressed at the Senior Bowl, his Tulane teammate — edge rusher Patrick Johnson — possesses the tools to hear his name called as well in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Patrick Johnson NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: EDGE
- School: Tulane
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 240 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Patrick Johnson Scouting Report
Positives: Three-year starter who was highly honored since his sophomore season. Terrific edge-rushing linebacker who makes a lot of plays up the field. Breaks down well, uses his hands to protect himself, and bends off the edge. Displays a closing burst, flattens from the back side, and easily pursues the play. Quickly locates the ball and nicely collapses from the outside defending the run. Fluid if asked to twist or stunt and rarely off his feet. Gets leverage on opponents. Remains disciplined with assignments.
Negatives: Shows little in the way of strength and gets stood up by blocks. Plays faster than he times but lacks flat-out speed.
Analysis: Johnson was very productive as a standup linebacker for Tulane and would be a good situational pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4 alignment.
Patrick Johnson Player Profile
Johnson’s play over the past four years as a Tulane edge rusher belies his lowly recruiting status. Only ranked as a two-star recruit out of Notre Dame High School, Johnson was considered the 149th strongside defensive end in the 2017 recruiting class. Furthermore, the Chattanooga native wasn’t even viewed as a top-100 player in the state of Tennessee.
The low ranking by recruiting sites and subsequent interest from college programs may have resulted from his late start as a productive high school talent. As a junior, Johnson recorded just 18 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. They’re hardly the sort of numbers that inspire colleges to rush out and lure a young man to their programs.
However, his senior season for Notre Dame would provide a glimpse of his potential. Johnson racked up 51 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Despite this uptick in production, he only held a few small-school offers, eventually choosing Tulane over Florida International and Florida Atlantic.
Patrick Johnson’s college football career at Tulane
Johnson’s standout senior season at Notre Dame didn’t immediately translate into success on the field for the Green Wave, however. Although he played in 12 games, he only started one — a mid-season clash with Army. In that game — and the next game against FIU — he registered 7 of his season total 12 tackles. It gave Tulane fans a taste of what they can expect in the future.
Over the next three years, Johnson would become a full-time starter and earn All-AAC honors each season. A dominant defensive disruptor, he led the team with 10.5 sacks in his sophomore year. Not only was that second in the conference, but he became only the third player in Tulane history to hit double-digit single-season sacks. Johnson also demonstrated an ability to generate turnovers, forcing 4 fumbles, including 2 against the notoriously difficult offense of Navy.
Despite battling injury in his junior season, the Tulane edge rusher once again led the team in sacks while also tallying a team-high 8.5 tackles for loss. He racked up 35 tackles and found further ways to be disruptive with 4 pass breakups.
Yet, 2019 was just a stop-gap to another mammoth season of production as a senior. In just nine games, Johnson contributed 36 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks. In a phenomenal performance against East Carolina, the Tulane edge rusher collected 3 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 pass breakup, and 2 forced fumbles. He ended his Tulane career with first-team All-AAC honors.
Patrick Johnson’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Given his experience and skillset, Johnson could quickly develop into a starter in the NFL. He best projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker where his hard-charging mentality will make him a menace against the run and as a pass rusher when the opportunity allows. As a result, teams that make for ideal landing spots — based on need and scheme fit — include the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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