Weight: 316 lbs.
Arm Length: 33 1/4″
Hand Size: 9 5/8″
Sharrif Floyd’s medical scare opened a hole in the Minnesota Vikings’ depth chart at defensive tackle next to Linval Joseph. Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen worked to fill that role in 2016, but Johnson is turning 33 before the 2017 season and Stephen is more effective as a nose tackle.
Spielman addressed the extremely underrepresented 3-tech spot by drafting Jaleel Johnson with the 109th overall selection. It’s yet another excellent value for the Vikings, grabbing a third-round talent that slipped into the fourth round.
Johnson was disruptive in his career at Iowa, most notably with his savvy hand usage. He effectively swipes at punches at opposing offensive linemen to keep himself in plus positions.
He utilizes his strong lower body well, getting off the line of scrimmage quickly and with exceptional acceleration. From there, he uses his arm length efficiently to shove offensive linemen backward.
Johnson was consistently the most energetic player on the Iowa defense — motor will never be a question for him.
Many will point to Johnson’s combine numbers as the reason he slipped in the draft. He ran just a 5.38 40-yard dash and bench pressed just 19 reps at 25 pounds. On paper, he isn’t very athletic. But on film, he is a terror for opposing offenses. He plays a lot faster than what his combine numbers show.
Mike Zimmer had to get creative in passing situations last season with Floyd out. Johnson can essentially be the Floyd replacement that allows Zimmer to get back to what he did so effectively in 2015.
With Johnson as a potential 3-tech pass rusher, the Vikings can shuffle guys like Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Brian Robison and Datone Jones at the remaining three positions on the defensive line in passing situations. Datone Jones recently said he’ll be playing specifically the 3-tech spot, which could create competition there between Johnson and Jones. At the very least, Johnson will be inserted into the rotation along the defensive line and contribute for the Vikings in his rookie season.
Johnson also has some experience in a nose tackle role, though it isn’t where he is best suited. In an emergency situation where Joseph and Stephen are both injured or unable to play, Johnson could fill in that role.
At the very least, Johnson will be inserted into the rotation along the defensive line and contribute for the Vikings in his rookie season.
Minnesota snuck in another excellent value with its first fourth-round pick. Johnson will provide stability and depth at a position that has become a giant question mark since the beginning of the 2016 season.
As far as Johnson’s potential, he absolutely has the ability to become a reliable starter within a couple of years in the league. Several teams missed a chance to acquire a difference-maker for their defenses, and Spielman took advantage.
VIKINGS NFL DRAFT INSTANT ANALYSES: