In the seventh round of the NFL draft, teams generally look for diamonds in the rough. The Buffalo Bills had two seventh round picks in 2014 and spent the first (Pick 221) on linebacker Randell Johnson. The linebacker from Florida Atlantic was known for his athleticism and in the seventh round, there was little risk in trying to develop the linebacker.
Before the Bills
At Florida Atlantic, Johnson played in a total of 42 games (He played in 10 games in 2012, which is missing from the table). His best season came in 2011, when he led the Sun Belt Conference in forced fumbles and was third in tackles for loss. It should be noted that FAU ran out of a 3-4 defense that season. The team ran out of a 4-3 base in 2010 and switched back to a four man front in 2012.
Johnson was named FAU football’s Iron Man of the Year in 2013. Leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, Johnson had an impressive Pro Day. In front of NFL scouts, Johnson ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, registered a broad jump of 10 feet and had a vertical leap of 38 ½ inches.
In his rookie season, Johnson didn’t see much playing time. According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson contributed on special teams in three games: Week 2 (Miami), Week 7 (Minnesota), Week 8 (Jets). His best play of the season was a special teams tackle on Percy Harvin in Week 8. Harvin catches the ball deep in the end zone and attempts to run the ball out. Johnson goes unblocked on the play and tackles Harvin at the 10. You can see the play below:
Johnson has the chance to see more playing time in 2015, but he’ll have to beat out Manny Lawson as the team’s reserve strongside linebacker. This will be one of the more exciting training camp battles to watch. Johnson has a chance to be a role player with the Bills this season, but his roster spot is not guaranteed by any means.