Draft Profile: Derrick Johnson

If the Browns decide to go defense in the first round ? either at #3 or after trading down ? Derrick Johnson may be the team?s top priority. Regarded as the best linebacker in the draft by most and the top defensive player available by some, Johnson has tremendous speed and proved to be an explosive playmaker during his career at Texas. A senior season that included two sacks and an NCAA-record nine forced fumbles netted Johnson the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s top defensive player and the Butkus Award as college football?s best linebacker. With the Browns moving to a 3-4 defense, Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel are hunting for a playmaking outside linebacker who can rush the passer and force turnovers, and Johnson may fit that description better than anyone else in this draft. There are those who aren?t sold on the former Texas star as a top-five selection but others believe he has skills comparable to NFL superstars like Dwight Freeney and Jevon Kearse, and while he didn?t record many sacks in college the Browns believe Johnson has what it takes to be an elite pass-rusher in the NFL. An intelligent player with a strong work ethic and no red flags, Johnson may not wind up in Cleveland on draft day but he?ll certainly be one of the first defensive players off the board.

The Plain Dealer?s Mary Kay Cabot talks about the Browns? opinion that outside linebacker is the critical position in a 3-4 scheme while also examining the attributes that should make Johnson a great NFL pass rusher.

The Daily Texan details how former Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson helped Johnson improve his game last season.

Meanwhile, Jeff Schudel from the News-Herald says ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper describes Johnson as a player who could be a huge success in the NFL or a slightly above-average pro.

Finally, more than 41% of the 22,000 people polled in a recent ClevelandBrowns.com survey believe Johnson will be the Browns? pick at #3.

Here?s more commentary from around the web on Derrick Johnson:

Detroit News

NFL.com

Mercury News

The Sporting News

Boston Globe

USA Today

CBS Sportsline

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Florida Today

Draft profiles:
NFL.com
CBS Sportsline
ESPN.com
FOX Sports
CNNSI.com

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