The Georgia Southern Eagles have only ever had one defensive end drafted to the NFL. Can Raymond Johnson III be the first Georgia Southern edge rusher selected in the NFL Draft since Fred Stokes was a 12th round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1987?
Raymond Johnson III NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: EDGE
- School: Georgia Southern
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 270 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Raymond Johnson III Scouting Report
Positives: Four-year starter who also played extensively on special teams. Breaks down well and bends his knees. Rarely off his feet. Easily changes direction and gets out into space to pursue the ball handler.
Attracts double-team blocks, gets leverage on opponents, and bends off the edge. Gets a lot of momentum and force going up the field. Displays outstanding hand technique to protect himself or get off blocks. Tough but also instinctive and quickly locates the ball.
Negatives: Lacks great edge speed and a closing burst. Possesses average bulk and is easily out-positioned by a single blocker. Displays an average burst off the snap.
Analysis: Johnson was a terrific defensive end for Georgia Southern and was constantly around the action making positive plays. He comes with marginal size and athleticism but could make a roster as an eighth defensive lineman in a four-man front.
Raymond Johnson III Player Profile
Johnson heads to the 2021 NFL Draft following a consistent career as a four-year starter off the edge for Georgia Southern. His football journey started with similar consistency at Sumter High School. While some high school players blossom in their junior or senior seasons, Johnson was already a Defensive Lineman of the Year as a sophomore in 2014.
It was the first of three that Raymond would secure in as many seasons, culminating in All-State honors as a senior. His performances earned him an invite to the North-South All-Star Game. Despite all the success at Sumter, Johnson flew under the radar in the recruiting process.
Even though ranked as the 26th best player in South Carolina, the three-star recruit only received interest from four teams. Wake Forest, for instance, showed interest in bringing him to the Power Five level, but they never extended an offer. In fact, only half of those interested teams made an offer. Ultimately, he chose Georgia Southern over Georgia State, heading to Statesboro for the 2017 season.
Raymond Johnson III’s college football career at Georgia Southern
After playing early, Johnson earned a starting role in nine games as a true freshman. In addition to the usual special teams’ contributions that you’d expect from a freshman, the Georgia Southern defensive end was impactful as an edge rusher. He amassed 36 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 7 quarterback pressures, earning an honorable mention for the All-Sun Belt team.
When it comes to draft evaluation, the one criticism leveled at productive “Group of 5” players is their level of competition. Well, that isn’t something that can be aimed at Johnson III. As a freshman, he had 3 tackles against Auburn. During his sophomore season in 2018, he logged 4 tackles against Clemson. Furthermore, in his junior season, he racked up 5 tackles against Louisiana State.
Moreover, Clemson and LSU would win the national championship in the years that the Georgia Southern edge rusher faced them.
He would make 25 starts over those two seasons while earning second-team All-Sun Belt honors in 2018 and upgrading to first-team recognition in 2019. With 15 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and 76 total tackles in two seasons, expectations were high for the Georgia Southern edge rusher heading into his senior season.
Johnson didn’t disappoint. In fact, he excelled. He very nearly outstripped his tackle for loss production from his previous two seasons combined. He recorded a career-high 5 sacks, and his 15 quarterback hurries broke the school record. Once again, he secured first-team All-Sun Belt honors while adding second-team All-American honors at defensive end.
With his college football aspirations accomplished, he opted to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft following the season’s conclusion.
Raymond Johnson III’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Johnson III’s best fit in the 2021 NFL Draft would be as a traditional defensive end in a 4-3 system. His experience on special teams could help him carve out a role for a team while serving as a backup edge rusher. Although there are concerns about his speed off the edge, Johnson was happy with his 40-yard dash at the recent Georgia Southern Pro Day.
Some teams that provide a scheme and need fit for the Georgia Southern edge rusher include the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Buffalo Bills.
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