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Broncos Prospect Profile: Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa

Zac Stevens Avatar
April 3, 2017

 

Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with the 2017 NFL Draft. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.

Jaleel Johnson is no stranger to quarterbacks, even as a defensive tackle. At 6-foot-3, 316 pounds, Johnson put himself on the national map as a senior after recording 7.5 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss from a position that doesn’t often put up flashy numbers.

With Johnson’s big frame and ability to get in the backfield consistently, he has the tools to succeed at the next level. He is currently projected to be a third-round pick in the draft.

Strengths

It isn’t by chance that Johnson is able to get in the backfield often, he uses a combination of skills to get behind the offensive lineman in front of him. He reads the snap effectively and gets a quick jump off the ball with a powerful point of attack often putting offensive lineman on their heels. Johnson also has good footwork and can slide in between offensive lineman using his footwork and hand usage.

When blockers engage him, he is quick to release from blocks. Against the pass, Johnson can also bull rush effectively and always keeps his feet and body moving through the play. Finally, he has a high motor and brings all of his energy every snap he’s on the field.

Weaknesses

Against the run, Johnson has proven to not be as stout as he is against the pass. His top-heavy frame often forces him to have a high center of gravity, which allows lineman to get under his pads and control where he goes. Due to this, he isn’t effective in taking on double teams and being a true run-stuffing defensive tackle in the middle of the line. He also doesn’t currently have the desired strength as an anchor in the middle of the defensive line.

How he fits in Denver

Although the Broncos need significant help against the run, there is a chance that they would be interested in Johnson with a mid-round pick. After picking up run stuffers Domata Peko and Zach Kerr in free agency, Denver could look to add a pass rushing defensive tackle, such as Johnson, in the draft to balance out the line.

If the Broncos were to pick him up, he would likely be a backup to Peko as a tackle and rotate with him on passing downs. He could also play defensive end. The reason Johnson could catch John Elway’s attention is because he would bring an immediate impact to the team this season—through rushing the passer—while also having the skills, frame and hustle to develop against the run and be a full-time starter in a few years.

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