School: Lousiana State University
Height: 6067 E
Weight: 362 E
40 Time: 5.4 E
For someone who weighs 360lbs, Johnson is a surprisingly good athlete. He's a good enough athlete for a 6'3 300lb guard, so to be 6'7 360 with his athleticism is excellent. He shows excellent balance and good knee bend, rarely overextends. He doesn't lumber as he runs despite being among the heaviest players in college football.
Physical Talents: 6.5
I don't like tall guards, but I like my guards heavy. I'm unsure exactly how to grade his body type because of this, but he does play with surprising leverage for being so tall a player. He has the ability to have a 7.5 or 8.0 strength grade, but too often he doesn't play aggressively and this causes him to play weaker than his physical talents suggest. Don't be surprised if he struggles at the bench due to his long arms. Average quickness off the snap.
Body Type: 6.5
I'm very impressed with how smart Johnson plays. He is never fooled by blitz schemes, and while it is hard to tell how much of that is due to C Brett Helms, Johnson certainly doesn't appear deficient in his understanding of the position. He plays with great knee bend for a player his size, and his hands give a jolt. However, he doesn't shoot them out especially quick. This is correctable, and he has the potential to improve this. He shows very good instincts when reacting to blitzing linebackers or blocking in tandem with the C.
Understands Playbook: 7.0
Proper Technique: 6.0
This is his biggest weakness. With his size, there is no excuse for how rarely he dominates the opposing DT. He has the physical tools to be among the best drive-blockers in the NFL, but even in college he settles too often for containing the DT when he could be dominating the DT. He does seem to ramp up his play in important drives, but his snap-to-snap consistency isn't always good as he can get worn down late in games and doesn't play with the same explosion.
Clutch Play: 6.5
Football Character: 6.5
Has lost weight since coming to LSU (arrived at 400lbs), is a smart player.
Personal Character: 6.0 Comes across as quite intelligent in interviews, no problems in past.
Durability: 6.0 Has had some injuries, but nothing especially concerning.
Play Strength: 6.0 Destroys
linebackers, but too often settles by latching onto DTs.
vs Speed Rush: 6.0 Smaller, quicker DTs can get past him if they're lucky. Not weak, but not great.
vs Bull Rush: 7.5 Long arms and strength mean that no DT successfully used a bull-rush in 4 games.
Footwork: 6.0 Good in-line footwork. Can get tripped up working around trash.
Hand technique: 5.5 Powerful jolt. But arms shoot out slowly. Doesn't miss at all. Could become a strength.
2nd level blocking: 7.0 Doesn't move especially well, but finds LBs and erases them almost every time.
Quickness off snap: 6.0 Good even for a normal-sized guard. Can be beaten, but not consistently weak.
Proper Balance: 6.5 Sits on a chair and uses great knee-bend for a player his size.
Lateral Slide: 6.0 Rarely asked to slide in space, but has shown the shuffle and slide needed to pick up stunting DTs.
Errors: 6.5 Occassionally gets a penalty, but it isn't a major problem.
Summary: Never before have I seen such a frustrating player to grade. Johnson has the potential to be a HOF guard in the mold of Larry Allen. When he reaches the second level, which he does with surprising frequency, linebackers are done for. He uses his strength then quite well. Half of my notes are about his surprising athleticism, the other have are criticizing him for not using his strength more - just from the notes, you'd think he was 60lbs lighter. If he can consistently play with the motor he has shown on key LSU downs and drives, he will wind up in Canton someday. Were I to make a prediction, however, I don't think he ever fully reaches his potential and becomes a good starting guard in this league who is occassionally beaten by the quicker DTs.
Final Grade: 6.2
Note: Especially with Herman Johnson, I retain the right to change this grade at any point until the 2009 NFL Draft. I will likely scout more LSU games and more guards in general, so this grade could change as I get a better feel for what other guards in the draft are like.
Kyle Rota is better known as Rotak in NET Nation. Kyle also has his own blog that can be reached at: http://collegescout.wordpress.com/. If you would like to email Kyle you can do so by clicking here.