Kevin Colbert Says Buddy Johnson’s Athleticism Key Reason Why Steelers Drafted Him

In his pre-draft press conference, Kevin Colbert discussed the need for linebackers in today’s NFL to be able to cover the field horizontally. With their fourth round selection of Buddy Johnson, Colbert feels they’ve gotten that caliber of player. Colbert joined Stan Savran Monday afternoon to discuss the team’s reasoning for selecting Johnson.

“Buddy can run,” Colbert said. “Buddy’s got some speed. We had them in the four-five [round] range. His workout was exceptional. He really started to come into focus, we had grades on him throughout the fall. I got to see him late in the season. I was down at the Orange Bowl when they played North Carolina and Buddy was all over the field making plays laterally.”

Johnson picked a good game to shine. Against the Tar Heels, he racked up 10 tackles with a season-high 2.5 TFL and one sack in the Aggies’ 41-27 victory. He ended the year with 85 total tackles (top 10 in the SEC), 7.5 tackles for loss, and four sacks.

At his Pro Day, he posted excellent numbers: A 4.58 40 at 229 pounds, a 38.5-inch vertical, and a 10’8″ broad. His RAS score was 9.22, the seventh-best RAS score for a linebacker in this year’s class.

To Colbert, what sold them on drafting Johnson was the combination of that athletic ability and physical mentality.

“The more we looked at him, the more we realized, he’s pretty athletic guy, but he’s also a physical guy.”

In my ongoing tape study, Johnson shows patience against the run, plays inside/out, and is able to take on blocks with good hand usage. Colbert believes the upside in his game is high.

“His ability to get sideline to sideline is evident, but the thing had kind of jumped out that I think we underestimated was his ability to show up in coverage. So excited that he could possibly be a three-down linebacker. He’s not the biggest guy. He’s gonna weigh-in right around 225, but again, speed and athleticism are valued more than that size and girth.”

Johnson’s inclusion should create an odd man out on the Steelers’ 53-man roster. Johnson, Devin Bush, and Robert Spillane are going to make the roster. That’ll leave three players competing for two spots: Vince Williams, Marcus Allen, and Ulysees Gilbert III.

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