Prospect Profiles Derrick Johnson Position: Linebacker College: Texas Height: 6-3 1/4 Weight: 243 Hometown: Waco, Texas OVERVIEW Picked as the top outside linebacker in college football by The Sporting News before the 2004 season, Derrick Johnson lived up to his billing. The aggressive, speedy and explosive linebacker established himself as one of the nation's premier defensive players. He earned the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's top defensive player and the Butkus Award (nation's top LB). Johnson was a finalist for the Bednarik Award (nation's top defensive player), the Lombardi Award (nation's top lineman) and the Lott Trophy (defensive player of the year) as a senior. He was the only defensive player among the 10 finalists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and earned unanimous first-team All-American accolades. He was also a unanimous selection as the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Johnson was a Parade All-American and Class 5A all-state selection as a senior at Waco (Tex.) High. He recorded 170 tackles (103 solo) with six sacks, 21 stops for losses, two interceptions and five forced fumbles in his final year. He added all-state and all-district honors as a junior, posting 157 hits with four sacks, 13 stops behind the line of scrimmage, two interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles during his junior campaign. He garned all-district accolades as a sophomore after making 99 tackles and a pair of sacks. Johnson also lettered twice in basketball. He was thrust into action as a true freshman at Texas in 2001, picking up National Freshman of the Year honors from The Sporting News and Big 12 Conference Freshman co-Defensive Player of the Year accolades. He ranked second on the team with 83 tackles (57 solo), 4½ sacks, 13 stops for losses, nine quarterback pressures and two fumble recoveries, despite starting only two games. The All-Big 12 Conference first-team pick started every game at weak-side outside linebacker in 2002. He led the team with 120 tackles (73 solo), 13 stops for losses, 10 pressures, four interceptions and 10 pass deflections. In 2003, Johnson followed by picking up consensus All-American honors, becoming the first Texas linebacker since Jeff Leiding in 1983 to do so. The Butkus Award finalist made 125 tackles (78 solo) with a pair of sacks, 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage, three fumble recoveries, nine pass break-ups and four interceptions. Fresh off a year in which he established himself as one of the nation's premier defenders, Johnson ended his collegiate career with several national honors in 2004. Johnson worked to become Texas' first ever Butkus Award (nation's top LB) winner. He also became the Texas first player since Tommy Nobis (1964-65) to earn back-to-back All-American honors. He led the team with a career-high 130 tackles (73 solo) with two sacks, 19 stops for losses, 10 pressures, nine forced fumbles (broke the NCAA season-record held by Syracuse's Dwight Freeney in 2001 and Boise State's Quintin Mikell in 2002), eight pass deflections and an interception. Johnson concluded his Longhorns career with 40 starts in 50 games. He recorded 458 tackles (281 solo) with 10½ sacks for minus-58 yards, 65 stops for losses of 170 yards and 39 quarterback pressures. Only Doug Shankle (478, 1978-81) and Britt Hager (499, 1984-88) registered more career tackles. Since the NCAA began compiling tackle records beginning with the 2000 season, only Rod Davis of Southern Mississippi (526, 2000-03), Grant Wiley of West Virginia (492, 2000-03) and Dexter Reid of North Carolina (466, 2000-03) have produced more in a career than Johnson. His 65 stops behind the line of scrimmage broke the Texas career record of 60 by Kiki DeAyala (1979-82). It is topped only by Western Michigan's Jason Babin (75, 2000-03) and Marshall's Johnathan Goddard (65½, 2001-04) on the NCAA Division I-A career record list. Johnson added five fumble recoveries, 11 forced fumbles, nine interceptions for 195 yards in returns (one for a touchdown), 30 pass deflections and a blocked kick during his time with the Longhorns. Johnson's nine interceptions established a school career record for linebackers, surpassing the previous mark of eight by Fred Edwards (1964-66). Only Robin Sendlein (12, 1977-80) and Kenneth Sims (15, 1978-81) caused more fumbles in a career at Texas than Johnson's 11. His 30 pass deflections are the most ever by a Longhorns linebacker. To say Johnson's lofty figures came against mediocre competition would be a false statement to say the least. In 18 career games against Top 25 opponents, Johnson registered 175 tackles, 4½ sacks, 31 stops behind the line of scrimmage, nine pass deflections, four interceptions, 19 quarterback pressures, three caused fumbles and a fumble recovery. Johnson is humble despite all of the recent awards and accolades. He is active in UT's community service program and serves as a mentor at local elementary schools. He recently graduated in the top third of his senior class and is active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, mentoring the younger players on the team. ANALYSIS Johnson is a natural leader with exceptional quickness and is regarded as one of the finest pass defenders to ever play linebacker in the collegiate ranks. He has good size, but needs to dedicate more hours to the weight room; he lacks strength on his lanky frame. This is Johnson's major weakness; he does not show enough power to shed blocks and gets washed out on plays when working in-line. He also needs to use his hands better; he leaves himself too exposed, resulting in the blockers getting into his chest to lock on and sustain. Johnson did add bulk before the 2004 season, but the added weight did not affect his exceptional quickness. He is best when making plays on the move, but can get a little bit out of control, resulting in over-running plays. Still, he is a natural playmaker who can make plays anywhere on the field. Johnson has excellent instincts in pass coverage, coming out of his backpedal quickly to stay on the hip of the receiver. He gets excellent depth in his pass drops and sees the play develop quickly. Johnson has excellent hands for the interception and shows an explosive burst to elude. He has a very strong work ethic and a motor that never quits. Johnson excels at making proper reads and has that sudden burst to get to the play almost instantly. Johnson's ability to take proper angles to the ball cuts down on the route he must take to disrupt the play. Johnson is more of a drag-down tackler than one who will collide on impact. He is very effective rerouting the tight ends in the short area and shows excellent avoidance skills when penetrating the backfield off the edge. Johnson has good hip snap and change-of-direction agility to pursue the action on the outside. He closes with a sudden burst and is very effective to wrap and drag down the ball carrier. He gets a good jump on the ball, easily recognizing formations and blocking schemes. Despite his lack of ideal strength, Johnson is a good outside run defender who plays with leverage and speed to cut off the ball carrier. His lateral pursuit is evident; he consistently avoids trash and the cut block to make the tackle in space. His zone drops are excellent; he shows more than enough flexibility to gain position. While he will play the receiver mostly, Johnson also does well at reacting to the ball in flight. He has the foot speed to stay with most backs and receivers in long-passing situations and is very effective using his hands to reroute and control tight ends in the short area. He shows a strong desire to get the sack and very good explosion shooting the gaps. Whether working in-line or outside the box, he shows above-average ability to break down and wrap, and a superb burst of speed coming off the edge as a pass rusher. Johnson will struggle with plays run directly at him; he lacks the lower-body power to face up, stack and control the bigger blockers. He loses leverage at the point of attack vs. the offensive guards working in-line, but has good rip, swim and club moves to get an edge on the shoulder of the offensive tackles coming from the outside. Once he gets heavily involved in a good weight-training program, he will be a steady playmaker at the next level. With his instincts, pass-defense skills and quickness, he will be perfectly suited to roam the field as a weak-side outside linebacker. His ability to drop back and settle into the zone soon will see him rival Miami's Zach Thomas for the right to be called the best pass defender among linebackers at the NFL level. INJURY REPORT No injuries reported. AGILITY 4.55 in the 40-yard dash … 345-pound bench press … 495-pound squat … 315-pound power clean … 32½-inch vertical jump … 9-foot-10 broad jump … 32-inch arms … 9½-inch hands. HIGH SCHOOL Attended Waco (Texas) High, playing football for coach Johnny Tusa … Parade All-American, first-team all-state Class 5A pick as a junior and senior and a three-time all-district choice … Registered 170 tackles (103 solo), 21 stops for losses, six sacks, two interceptions (one returned for a TD) and five forced fumbles in 2000 … Had a career-best 30 tackles and forced four fumbles against John Tyler High and posted 20 stops and three sacks against Tyler Lee … Recorded 157 tackles, 13 stops behind the line of scrimmage, four sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries as a junior … Registered a season-high 21 tackles and a pair of sacks against Temple and added 18 stops against Arlington Martin that year … Posted 99 stops and a pair of sacks as a sophomore … Also lettered twice in basketball … Ran 100 meters in 10.5 seconds in high school. PERSONAL Youth and Community Studies major … Active in the University of Texas' community service program … Serves as a mentor at local elementary schools … Graduated in the top third of his senior class … Brother, Dwight, played defensive tackle at Baylor from 1996-99 and in the National Football League with the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants … Cousin of Bert Emanuel, a former Rice quarterback who played eight years in the NFL with Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Miami as a receiver … Cousins, Kevin Emanuel (former defensive lineman at Florida State) and Ben Emanuel (defensive back at UCLA) also played college football … Active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes … Born Derrick O'Hara Johnson on Nov. 22, 1982 in Waco, Texas. If we stay mainly a 4-3 defense, this is the guy I want. DJ will be a superstar weakside linebacker for somebody.