2013 NFL Draft: Nico Johnson Prospect Profile


Sep 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Nico Johnson (35) on the line of scrimmage during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Cowboys Stadium. Alabama beat Michigan 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Nico Johnson is a hard-nosed linebacker who knows what his assignments are and executes them with no problem. He is a superb run defender, and was a key rotational defender on a couple of Alabama’s historic defenses the past few years. Johnson is not a superb athlete like Alec Ogeltree or Jarvis Jones, but rather a more traditional linebacker who likes to shove people around and dive into the pile.


6’2” Height

33 1/4” Arms

248 lbs. Weight

9 1/4” Hands


Johnson is a pure run defending linebacker, and is probably one of the best in the business at this. He also took on fullbacks at Alabama and would free up his fellow teammates, something that Donta Hightower and C.J. Mosley should send him a large fruit basket for as he often set up their big plays. Johnson also has good enough hands to be able to shed guards off and make plays himself. He is excellent at recognizing plays and knowing what he needs to do and how to do it, and reportedly was a film room junkie, which will help him in the NFL as far as knowing what an offense is going to do and alerting his teammates of it.


Although at times at Alabama he made plays, Johnson is not a natural playmaker and will struggle to make big plays in the NFL. He lacks the speed to be able to cover running backs and athletic tight ends in the NFL, and was abused in the pass. In the NFL you will not want Johnson to be on the field on passing downs as quarterbacks will often abuse him and make sure he is matched up with players more athletic than he is. He also is not very good at rushing the passer on blitzes, which is something he’d have to do in the NFL if he were to be a starting inside linebacker.


Nico Johnson is purely a one-dimensional linebacker, whose job in the NFL will only be as a run stopping linebacker. His best fit is in a 3-4 defense as a backup Weak Inside linebacker, or backup Strong-side linebacker in a 4-3. There is little to no chance that he goes at any time before Day 3 of the Draft in April. He will likely end up being a 5th to 7th round pick.

Grade: 5.8