High School and College Career
DJ Johnson, a 4-star recruit, committed to the University of Oregon. Johnson saw minimal playing time in his freshman year on 2018 and he only participated in one game and played a total of 2 snaps for the Ducks.
As a sophomore in 2019, Johnson’s playing time increased significantly with 166 snaps across 13 games. He contributed with 11 tackles, and 11 total pressures, including 7 QB hurries, one QB hit, and 3 sacks throughout the year.
In 2021, Johnson’s third year with the Ducks, he played in 9 games for 152 snaps. He recorded 10 tackles, and produced 5 total pressures with 3 QB hurries, one QB hit, and one sack throughout the year.
Johnson’s senior year in 2022 saw him log playing time in 11 games, with a total of 439 snaps. He recorded 20 tackles, one pass breakup, with no interceptions and a QB rating when targeted of 95.5. As a pass rusher, Johnson had 28 total pressures, including 21 QB hurries, 2 QB hits, and 5 sacks throughout the season.
D.J. Johnson Scouting Report Introduction
DJ Johnson’s college football career has been an interesting journey so far, starting out as a freshman at Miami before transferring to Oregon in 2018. However, due to transfer rules, he had to sit out a year before returning to the field in a new role. Johnson switched from defensive end to tight end in the COVID-shortened season to help his team out, only to switch back to defense the following year. It wasn’t until his senior year that Johnson had the stability he needed to put it all together on the field.
As a player, Johnson’s standout qualities include his outstanding size and overall athleticism. As a pass rusher, Johnson displays an explosive first step and consistently wins edges against opposing offensive tackles, using his length to squeeze the pocket and disrupt the quarterback. He also possesses good power as a rusher, getting tackles on their heels and driving them back on bull rush. Johnson’s outstanding motor allows him to make plays late in the down.
However, there are concerns about Johnson’s rawness as a pass rusher despite his athletic profile, especially given his age as an older prospect. Johnson lacks pass-rush moves and counters, making it difficult for him to win once his initial rush is stopped.
As a run defender, Johnson displays good power in his hands to set the edge and get off the block. He has outstanding closing speed in run pursuit and makes plays down the line of scrimmage. However, his athleticism is a bit linear, causing stiffness in his lower half when he is forced to change direction and break down to make tackles in the open field. Additionally, Johnson’s processing skills against the run are underdeveloped, making him susceptible to being fooled by traps and counters.
Overall, Johnson has tremendous athletic potential, but his lack of development at the college level is a cause for concern. He may end up being a rotational pass rusher at the next level unless he receives excellent coaching in an attacking NFL defense that allows him to reach his full potential.
One of Johnson’s standout qualities is his impressive speed and overall athleticism, which he displays when moving laterally as a run defender. His quickness and agility allow him to cover a significant amount of ground in pursuit of the ball carrier, making him a formidable force on defense. Looks for him to be a scheme fit as the “MIKE” position in a Tampa-2 defense. In that defense he can use his agility to drop back in coverage.
Johnson’s strength and instincts make him a formidable opponent on the field. He has a strong core and powerful hands, which allow him to shed blockers with ease in order to make plays. He also displays excellent instincts, quickly locating the ball and disrupting plays in the backfield on a regular basis.
When it comes to rushing the passer, Johnson has several tools at his disposal. He can win on the edge using his powerful lower body to drive blockers back with the bull rush, or by disengaging from blockers using his long arms to make plays. He is quick off the snap and an effective blitzer, making him a well-rounded and valuable defensive player.
Finally, Johnson is an exceptional tackler, possessing the agility and pure speed to cover sideline to sideline like a safety. He moves fluidly on the field, finishing plays with violent and consistent tackles.
When assessing D.J. Johnson’s performance as a pass rusher, one area of improvement that stands out is his use of violent hand techniques to defeat blocks. At the next level, opponents will likely be stronger and more skilled, making it essential for Johnson to use his hands with greater force and precision to penetrate the offensive line and pressure the quarterback effectively.
Another area of concern for Johnson is his physique. His hips are somewhat high, he has long arms, and his waist is narrow. While these features can offer certain advantages, such as increased mobility and reach, they can also limit his ability to anchor.
Finally, while Johnson has demonstrated some pass-rushing ability, much of his success has come through exploiting open lanes. Without these opportunities, he is less effective as a pass rusher. To be truly exceptional in this role, he will need to develop more diverse and sophisticated techniques that allow him to disrupt the opposing quarterback’s rhythm and create opportunities for his teammates to succeed.
D.J. Johnson is the 159th prospect on our draft big board.