According to a report from Jordan Schultz, Jermaine Johnson—one of the best edge defenders in this year’s draft class—visited the Detroit Lions on a pre-draft visit on Monday. That visit by Johnson happened just a day before the Lions hosted Oregon edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux on a pre-draft visit, as confirmed by his Instagram on Tuesday.
Johnson and Thibodeaux are two of the best defensive players who could be available for Detroit with the second overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. While Thibodeaux is usually included in the conversation for the top three edge defenders in this year’s class (alongside Aidan Hutchinson and Travon Walker), Johnson is widely considered just outside that conversation. There are many who believe he belongs with that first group, though. The Draft Network has Johnson ranked as the third-best edge defender in this class (behind Hutchinson and Thibodeaux) and their eighth overall prospect. While Pro Football Network has Johnson ranked as the fifth-best prospect in his year’s class overall, they only have him behind Thibodeaux at the edge position. Even local reporter Dave Birkett had the Lions taking Johnson in his latest mock draft.
After two somewhat quiet years as a rotational player at Georgia, Johnson transferred to Florida State for the 2021 season. He absolutely thrived there, blowing up for 70 tackles and 18.0 tackles for loss, including 12.0 sacks. While he’s not quite the athletic freak that some of the top players in this class might be, he’s not short on athleticism at all.
Jermaine Johnson is a DE prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 9.58 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 61 out of 1428 DE from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/Dh4wLDogLs #RAS pic.twitter.com/NLoRy4OpzH— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 25, 2022
Johnson is a well-balanced player who defends the run almost as well as he can rush the passer. Some may be put off by the lack of production until his last year in college, but his effort is obvious on tape and he has more than enough physical potential to develop into a more consistent player.
The question here is whether the Lions are interested in Johnson with the second overall pick or are they doing their due diligence in case they complete a trade down later in the first round?