Taking a guess on Johnson’s destination

Published 11:54 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2009

When will Dallas County’s Michael Johnson be snapped up by an NFL team looking to shore up its defensive line?

I’ll be honest. I haven’t the foggiest idea. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take a well-researched, flailing guess.

Johnson measured in at 6 feet 7 inches and 266 pounds at last week’s NFL combine. His 40-yard dash time (4.75) was fifth best among participating defensive line prospects. He also placed third with a time of 4.37 in the 20-yard shuttle.

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Obviously, the quickness is there. But Johnson put his explosiveness on display with two other performances.

His vertical jump of 38.5 inches placed him third, and he tied for first among defensive linemen with a broad jump of 10 feet 8 inches.

My only two questions at this point are his strength and agility. Neither was addressed at the Indy combine. He did not participate in the bench press or 3-cone drill — tests that would’ve answered both questions.

It’s hard not to read anything into not participating in either drill, especially because the draft is the type of beast that requires scouts to know every single strength or weakness with the player that they implore the general manager to sign.

Why? Pretty simple. For every Peyton Manning, there is a trio of Ryan Leaf, Rick Mirer, Joey Harrington and any other can’t miss prospect you can think of. Mirer was overhyped, Harrington still has trouble reading defenses and Leaf was — and is — reported to be, well, psycho.

Having talked with him, I think Johnson has a pretty good head on his shoulders. But if the ability is there to wow the scouts with the bench press and 3-cone drill, sitting out of them only hurts his chances.

He earned first team All-ACC honors his senior year at Georgia Tech and was an All-American the year before. Though he finished with 17.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks, and scouts love his size, long arms and burst off the line, they see his play as “spotty.”

All that said, now for the big question. Where do I think he will go? I’ve looked at several mock drafts, and have seen him listed anywhere from the No. 20 pick in the first round to the 40th pick overall (No. 8 in the second round).

I tend to think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I also tend to believe that anyone who projects Matthew Stafford as the No. 1 overall pick has not researched the prospects on his mock draft list.

But as for where Johnson will go, I will go on record as saying Johnson will be snatched up by the Giants with the No. 29 pick in the first round.

I don’t really have anything substantial to base my prediction on — just a well-researched, flailing guess.