Originally Posted by SteelersCanada
Nico Johnson is 6'1 245 and isn't terrible in coverage. Have you watched Alabama games? He doesn't have the same speed as Spence but he's able to locate and tackle efficiently. He's great against the run and can blitz effectively. He's the anti-Spence and at this point, that's all I'm asking for.
He's big enough to be disruptive at the line of scrimmage but also has decent enough speed to cover TEs and slot receivers over the middle effectively. He also wouldn't get bent over trying to make tackles against bigger receivers and TEs.
I'm all for finally letting Timmons be used effectively, but if we're using Spence it would ultimately cause more problems than it would solutions. Spence would be a liability in the run game and would get easily knocked around by bigger Backs and wouldn't be able to blitz effectively. Spence is a one-dimensional Linebacker.
Johnson can cover and blitz, something that Foote and Farrior weren't capable of doing. He's just fast enough to be a cover guys over the middle but can blitz and disrupt the line with Timmons.
This is from walterfootball, there are many other scouts take on Johnson that say the samething.
Skill-Set Summary: The biggest strength for Johnson as a defender is his run defense. He is tough and physical at the point of attack. Johnson has no issues wrapping big backs and bringing them to the ground. He flows pretty well in the direction of plays and is able to get on some perimeter runs. There is no hesitation in taking on blockers and Johnson does well holding his ground.
Johnson does not look like the best of athletes. He is not a fast linebacker that can cover a lot of ground. His instincts and awareness seem to be a little slow as well. If he improves his ability to read his keys and shows better instincts that could help make up for a lack of foot speed.
In pass defense Johnson does not cover a lot of ground. He also looks like a mismatch in man coverage versus backs or tight ends. The best route to go with Johnson as a pass defender is to have him blitz the quarterback. He's looked pretty good as a blitzer in limited opportunities, but he should see many more opportunities in 2012.
In the NFL, Johnson looks like he would best used as a rotational linebacker in obvious running situations. That probably means Johnson is just a backup because the NFL
is based in the passing attack and nickel defenses. He would fit best on the inside of a 3-4 defense and doesn't have the speed to be a middle linebacker in a 4-3. Johnson should be a good special teams contributor.