Head 2 Head Spotlight: Monroe vs. Johnson

There are plenty of great prospects to keep an eye on every week and this week is no different. But instead of profiling a number of players this week, Scout.com's Chris Steuber focuses on a matchup that places two potential top-10 picks, Virginia OT Eugene Monroe (pictured left) and Georgia Tech DE Michael Johnson, Head 2 Head. Also, find out what NFL teams will be scouting this battle inside.

Virginia (4-3) at #18 Georgia Tech (6-1)
Saturday, October 25th at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU

Scouting Report: Michael Johnson is a freakish athlete with a premier frame and tremendous athleticism. He's quick off the line and uses his outstanding wingspan to gain an advantage against the opposition. He moves well down the line and changes direction instantly in pursuit. He's versatile and can play up or in the down position. He tends to get overwhelmed at the line and doesn't handle double teams very well. He has to get stronger and shed blocks consistently. He displays flashes of dominance followed by moments of mediocrity.

One of the premier tackles in the country, Monroe will receive a lot of attention from scouts on Saturday.
Virginia Athletics

Eugene Monroe is a versatile lineman, who has the skill and technique to be a dominant all-around tackle. He possesses great size, a long wingspan and forceful leg drive. He keeps defenders at bay with his reach and uses his quickness and lateral movement to shield them from getting around the end. He has the ability to get to the second level and be an instrumental part of the rushing attack. He plays with intensity and has a passion for the game. He doesn't consistently initiate contact and allows defenders to engage and rip to make plays behind the line.

Head 2 Head: This is a huge game for Georgia Tech as they try to keep their BCS hopes alive. But Virginia, who's coming off a 16 – 13 upset victory against North Carolina last weekend, is out to play spoiler. A matchup that could go a long way into deciding the momentum of the game will be played along the line of scrimmage as Monroe and Johnson are set to combat. Monroe has had an up and down season, a season in which he gave up his first sack since 2006. It's known that Monroe is susceptible to lack focus occasionally, and that allows that opposition to have the opportunity to beat him off the edge. For all the accolades and hype that Johnson receives, he has yet to have a breakout game that will set him apart from the other defensive ends in the country. Through seven games, Johnson has recorded 23 tackles, eight for a loss and three sacks. Going up against Monroe isn't an easy task, and Johnson will have to pick his spots against the massive tackle to have success.

Prospective Scouting: In this conference showdown, the Head 2 Head battle that Monroe and Johnson are about to embark on will draw plenty of attention from NFL Scouts. The teams that will be in attendance to get a first hand look at these two top prospects are the Atlanta Falcons, who will send two scouts to the game, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals.

This Saturday is an opportunity for Johnson to prove that he's worthy of all the hype and have a big game against Monroe.
Georgia Tech Athletics

It's interesting to see that the Ravens, Browns and Patriots are attending this weekend's game. The teams run a 3-4 defense and are always in search of versatile defenders who can play up or down. Johnson is a player who primarily plays from the down position, but in an interview that I conducted with him prior to the season, he stated that he's able to drop back and play at outside linebacker.

"Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah… I can definitely do that," Johnson said, in regards to playing linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. "It doesn't matter [where I play], I just feel comfortable on the field. Wherever they [NFL teams] want me to play, I'll play. I'm not one to complain about what position I play or how much I play; whenever I'm out there I'm going to give everything I got."

All the teams in attendance will keep a close eye on Johnson and Monroe. But it will be Monroe who will receive the higher grade and the most attention. His versatility and ability to dominate on the left side of the O-Line will leave scouts salivating. Johnson's potential is off the charts, and the scouts watching know that he has great ability. But for Johnson to justify his standing as one of the premier defensive ends in the nation and a potential top-10 draft pick, he has to display the pass rushing skills necessary of an elite defender. And to be an elite defender, you have to play your best when the competition is at its highest and a lot of potential employers are watching.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.

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