When day three of the draft came, Vikings fans were worried because a much-needed position in defensive tackle had not been addressed. General manager Rick Spielman changed just that when Minnesota selected Iowa’s Jaleel Johnson 109th overall. Despite not having a first-round selection because of the Sam Bradford trade, Minnesota was able to put together a very solid draft, and Johnson was a big part of that.
Jaleel Johnson Can Help the Minnesota Vikings Immediately
The former high school wrestler has extreme disruption ability along the inner defensive line. Jaleel has lower body strength that has overpowered opposing linemen in the past years. When combined with his consistent shifty handwork and punches, Johnson made his case to be drafted.
It is very clear Jaleel loves the game of football and effort is not a problem with him. There is no question about his character. He plays with a very high motor every down and will be able to beat you in the mental game.
Johnson brings flexibility to the room as well. Spielman mentioned in a press conference “We felt what we’ve seen at Iowa, his flexibility to play nose tackle and under tackle. The Senior Bowl, he was outstanding.’’
With much needed flexibility along with polished play, the Vikings had an easy decision in the fourth round. Johnson was high on their draft board and fixed a need, which is exactly what Spielman was looking for.
Though film would say otherwise, Johnson is not what many would call an “athletic freak.”
The main reason Johnson fell was due to his performance at the Combine. His combine was very average if not below. He benched a mere 19 reps and ran a slow 5.38 40-yard dash. This was the biggest contributor to him falling to the fourth round.
Johnson has been known to get stood up and lose his balance at the point of contact. This is something that can be cleaned up with the help of well-respected defensive line coach Andre Patterson.
Where He Fits in Zimmer’s Scheme
With the uncertain (and rather doubtful) health status of Sharrif Floyd, Johnson should be able to fit into the rotation immediately. Head coach Mike Zimmer loves to rotate his players within the defensive line. Johnson may or may not get the “starting job” per say, but he will find a role for himself if he lives up to his expectations.
Johnson will not feel rushed into his role. With the addition of Datone Jones in the off-season as well as help from Shamar Stephen and Tom Johnson, there will be no pressure for the rookie. Getting to play next to standout defensive tackle Linval Joseph helps as well.
Jaleel Johnson was a sneakily good pick for the Vikings. He can beat you with his head and nonstop disruptive attack from multiple positions along the defensive line. He will most likely get playing time immediately in Week 1. Given time to develop, Johnson has the potential to solidify himself as a starter in this league.