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2021 NFL Draft: Scouting Roundup on Steelers LB Buddy Johnson

What the experts were saying about the Steelers second pick in the 4th round.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Auburn at Texas A&M Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the 4th round of the 2021 NFL Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Buddy Johnson out of Texas A&M. Here’s what some different draft analysts were saying about Buddy Johnson.

NFL Draft Bible

The Good

A rough and tough old-school linebacker who showcases great processing quickness and the power in his hits to get the job done, Johnson makes up for his average athleticism when he hits the field. He does a great job of taking on blockers and working his way through them to find the ball and he isn’t fazed when he has to go head-to-head against more physical offensive linemen. His positioning is usually on the money, taking excellent angles working downhill and to the perimeter.

The Bad

He’s already maxed out physically. His coverage ability will simply be sufficient, but will never be a strength. Teams that prioritize versatility from linebackers might not be as interested as a result of those average coverage abilities.

Tony Pauline for Pro Football Network

The Good

Hard-working, undersized linebacker who is best defending the run. Patient, stays with assignments, and quickly locates the ball handler. Breaks down well, uses his hands to protect himself, and fires up the field in run defense. Fluid moving laterally, slides off blocks and gets to the action making the tackle.

The Bad

Displays average skill in pursuit despite his 40 time. Best making plays up the field and in the box.

Jordan Reid for The Draft Network

The Good

An instinctive and physical player as a MIKE linebacker, he was at the center of the Aggies’ attack. A bit of a throwback player at the position, he’s a strong run defender. Attacking the first level with plenty of energy and bad intentions, he’s been able to accumulate lots of action in that variety.

The Bad

Pass coverage is where his biggest improvements will need to come, as he has lots of stiffness in his hips that negatively affects him in both man and zone coverage.

Lance Zierlein for

The Good

Team leader through actions and words.
Good size, definition and aggression.
Durable and tough with experience inside and outside.
Took big leap forward with feel for inside linebacker position in 2020.
Does dirty work to help defense thrive.
Physical striker and wrap-up finisher.
Attacks the block with aggressive punch.

The Bad

Needs to get deeper downhill to short-circuit pulling guards.
Needs to slip blocks occasionally rather than always going to battle.
Hip tightness hinders open-field coverage agility.
Looked lost with coverage responsibilities at times.
Needs to stay light on his feet as open-field tackler.


Buddy Johnson isn’t a unicorn. He’s not a Devin Bush, Tremaine Edmunds, Bobby Wagner type of linebacker that can do everything at a high level. He also has a lot of room to improve in his technique and awareness. I think the promising thing is his leap forward in 2020 that showed he was getting the nuance of his position. If he can continue to mature mentally in the position and improve his technique he can become a solid #2 inside linebacker that would be a good compliment to Devin Bush.