Rookie Rewind: Jermaine Johnson II

Matt Parkinson previews the newest Jets EDGE rusher Jermaine Johnson.

With the 26th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select, LB, Jermaine Johnson from Florida State University.

Johnson comes from a big city in northern Minnesota, where he grew up and played his high school ball.  At Eden Prairie High School, he was a stand-out during his senior year, however, he was not even ranked for the class of 2017 by ESPN.com in their list of 300 recruits.  Nonetheless, he gained interest from colleges such as Louisville and Minnesota, but Johnson was deemed academically ineligible to play ball at the next level.  His path wouldn’t be direct anymore, as he would have to make a stop at Independence Community College, where the popular Netflix show, Last Chance U would film its new season.  Despite the distraction, Johnson would shine, putting his name on the map and earning him many number 1 or 2 ranks in the JUCO class.  Johnson would gain interest from many schools, but in the end, he would choose the University of Georgia.

For the 2019 season, Johnson would play in all 14 games, starting one of them, slotting in as a nice rotational piece for the Bulldogs.  Johnson saw similar playing time in 2020, playing in 7 games and starting 3.  During the ladder half of the season, he would choose to enter the transfer portal, where he would find his true home.  Jermaine became a Florida State Seminole.  Now, a 5th-year senior, this was Johnson’s last chance.  He made the most of this opportunity, as he racked up 12 starts, 70 TKLS, 18.0 TFL, and 12.0 Sacks.  He led the ACC in sacks and tackles for losses, earning him the ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.  He would also earn a spot on the All-American team.  Johnson took advantage of his opportunity in the best way possible, cementing himself as a sought-after prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft.

During the NFL Draft process, Johnson gained praise for his strong motor, his size, and his ability to rid of blockers.  While he was a strong prospect, he wasn’t a complete one as he is quite old compared to the rest of the class as he is 23 years old, 24 by the end of his rookie season.  He was also notched for his lack of fluidness in his pass rushes.  Johnson was mocked as a first-round talent around the middle of the first round, but sometimes down near the top 5.  He was compared to elite-level pass rushers in today’s game, Maxx Crosby, and Danielle Hunter.

With the 26th pick in this year’s draft, a surprise on many levels occurred.  Johnson slipped down draft boards all the way to 26, but in a big trade, the Jets, who already made 2 selections on the night, traded back into the first round with the Tennessee Titans.  The Jets took Johnson, as they look to fill a major need at edge.

“Love it already” – Jermaine Johnson II