Why Chicago Bears have interest in Eric Johnson
The Chicago Bears brought in defensive lineman Eric Johnson for a pre-draft visit. Johnson grew up in Plainfield, Illinois, so the local visit does not count against the 30 that the team is allotted.
Still, the Bears only have so much time before the draft so it is interesting to hear them doing their work on a defensive lineman from Missouri State. Who is Eric Johnson and how does he fit the Chicago Bears?
Who is Eric Johnson?
Eric Johnson was 235 pounds, causing him to go under-recruited. He now weighs 299 pounds and grew into his body at Missouri State. Johnson spent a year gaining weight as a redshirt, then was a five-year starter for Missouri State, playing in 47 games over his five-year career.
Over that time he had 6.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. Johnson did not get an NFL combine invite but did work out at his pro day. Johnson also received NFL attention when he worked out at the NFL PA bowl, and saw a late invite to the Senior Bowl, spending a few days in Mobile.
NFL Comparison for Eric Johnson
This is not an exact comparison, and it is hard to see exactly what he brings to the table considering there is not much Missouri State tape out there. However, when you look at how he appears physically and athletically it is easy to find an NFL comparison that would give reason for the Chicago Bears to be interested.
Could the team see Larry Ogunjobi as the NFL comparison for Eric Johnson? You can see how they compare below thanks to RAS scores.
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They are a bit different in some areas, but similar in size and Johnson is even a bit more athletic in some areas. The team could at least see themselves attempting to develop him into a similar role.
Would the Chicago Bears draft Eric Johnson?
It is hard to come up with strengths and weaknesses on a prospect that you can barely find video of. However, Dane Brugler of the athletic has watched him more than me, and he sees Johnson as a fifth-round pick.
Brugler notes that he will be 24 years old as a rookie, he still plays with a high pad level, and often can leave his gap in run defense. Still, Brugler mentions that he was athletic at a smaller size, and plays lighter than he is because of it. Brugler likes his hand usage and the fact that he has played everywhere from the nose to near the tackles.
The Chicago Bears are clearly valuing a penetrating 3-tech, as they worked out Logan Hall, and have eyes on Eric Johnson after missing on Larry Ogunjobi and rebounding with Justin Jones.
If the team sees a ball of clay worth investing in during day three, it could be a fit, but the 24-year old rookie seems to make his upside limited, especially when you view his production. If he takes a few years to adjust he is already going to be in the middle of his prime by the time he gets on an NFL field.