Good news, Steelers Nation. After being subjected to a mind numbing amount of mock drafts and plenty of unsubstantiated speculation during what seemed like an inordinately long pre-draft process, minus the Scouting Combine to break up the monotony, the 2021 NFL Draft is finally upon us. I have been given the distinguished task of trying to apply a letter grade to each Steelers selection.
There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal the validity of any grade given, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value. Draft value is achieved by evaluating each players actual selection against their projected draft position, whether that be player rankings or projected round.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Texas A&M LB Devodrick "Buddy" Johnson with the 140th selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. Buddy Johnson is a football player, pure and simple. He is a hard hitting inside linebacker with solid athleticism and excellent intangibles. He has impressive leadership qualities, he was team captain for the Aggies, and plays with a obvious passion for the game.
Based on the aforementioned parameters of need, fit, and value; I am giving the selection of Buddy Johnson an initial draft grade of B, once again based on my faith in Colbert and the Steelers proven track record on finding diamonds in the rough at linebacker.
Johnson stands 6' tall and weighs 230 lbs. He scored a 9.22 RAS overall at his pro day, exceeding the expectations of most scouts in attendance. His lack of prototypical size dropped his score slightly, but it was still the seventh highest score for a linebacker in this class. His speed and agility scores were rated "great", while his composite explosion score was "elite". He ran a 4.59 forty and had a 38" vertical. He is a superior tackler, consistently driving through the ball carrier and wrapping up. He works his way quickly through traffic, but could improve his route to the ball on occasion. Better to be naturally aggressive and have to learn control than the other way around.
Johnson is a smaller but more athletic Vince Williams clone. He is a old school type linebacker who likes to bring the pain, but predictably struggles in coverage. The good news is that his impressive athletic measurables would seem to suggest he may be able to improve in coverage with more experience and improved technique through coaching.
Johnson's superior athleticism isn't always immediately evident on the field or on film. Some early evaluations claimed he was tight in the hips and lacked top end speed. There seems to be a disconnect between the film and his measurables. There are multiple reasons for why that may be true, but the Steelers apparently weren't too concerned. They also don't appear to be worried with the lack of length of their interior linebacker group. They are more concerned with the size of the fight in the dog than the size of the dog in the fight.
Johnson should be a special teams standout right from the start of his Steelers career, and his aggressive nature should make him a instant fan favorite for Steelers Nation. He has the look of a Steelers inside linebacker who could possibly develop into a starter at some point down the road. I expect a spirited training camp battle for depth positions at inside backer.
Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the selection and what initial grade would you give it. Please place your vote in the attached poll and share your reasoning in the comment section below.
I am pleased to welcome Buddy Johnson to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC community and Steelers Nation!
What initial draft grade would you give this Steelers selection?
This poll is closed
A = Excellent selection
B = Above average selection
C = Solid selection
D = Below average selection
F =Terrible selection