Saturday, April 29, 2017

Vikings Select Iowa DT Jaleel Johnson with the 109th pick

Photo: Pro Football Weekly
The Minnesota Vikings selected Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson with the 109th pick in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.

The Minnesota Vikings selected Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson with the 109th pick in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. He will immediately provide the Vikings with depth in the interior defensive line. The Vikings had a glaring need at the three technique defensive tackle spot and Johnson fills the void.

He was named first team All-Big Ten and started all 13 fames at defensive tackle. He registered 29 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 pass breakups, and 5 quarterback pressures in 2016. Johnson's effort stood out on tape and he earned the "Team Hustle Award" from the Iowa team.

Johnson plays with incredible energy/tenacity and has strong pass rushing moves to pair with underrated run defense skills. What I like most about Johnson is his quick feet and athleticism, which creates more opportunities for him to get after the quarterback. He is quite underrated as a run defender too because he can change direction, has strength, and can quickly peel off of blocks.

His hand technique is also something that stands out on tape and Johnson attributes it to his experience as a wrestler in high school.

“It taught me really was where to place your hands as far as whether you should be inside or outside,” Johnson said.

The defensive tackle was in contact with the Vikings during the draft proccess and said he had the opportunity to speak with defensive line coach Andre Patterson.

“I had spoken with the entire staff at the combine," he said. "I Facetimed the defensive line coach when I was back at Iowa working out.” 

I watched him live when he played against the Minnesota Golden Gophers and was impressed with the technique he paired with his athleticism. He uses his hands and quick feet to open up opportunities to make plays as both a pass rusher and run defender. His technique is rather solid when he stays low and gets position. Many Big Ten people I talked with thought he had the chance to be a very talented rotational interior defensive linemen selected near the bottom of the second round.

Johnson's said his breakthrough senior season was fueled by playing hard and for his teammates. These are traits he looks forward to bringing with him to Minnesota.

“Just playing for the team, really, and just playing unselfish," he noted.

Johnson will join Linval Joseph, Shamar Stephen, Tom Johnson, and Datone Jones in the interior. The Vikings now have some serious depth and rotational capability on their defensive line.

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