New York Jets linebacker and former first-round pick Jermaine Johnson has been eager to show the NFL that he is ready for a breakout sophomore campaign.
Head coach Robert Saleh loves adding edge rushers and the 24-year-old fits Saleh’s mold perfectly. Johnson has superb athleticism, length, and strength coming off the edge. He utilizes his violent hands to push opponents off their spots and create pressure.
As a rookie, the Florida State product was hampered by an ankle injury that forced him to miss three games in 2022. Despite that, Johnson flashed the potential to be an exciting defender. He logged 29 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and five quarterback hits.
New York Jets Star Jermaine Johnson Poised For A Breakout Sophomore Campaign
Jermaine Johnson’s Offseason Hype
Johnson knew exactly what to expect going into the off-season after having one year in the NFL. After an early training camp practice, he voiced how much easier it is for him this season.
“Just understanding the scheme and being able to play fast,” Johnson said about what’s different this season. Even fellow teammate Quinnen Williams noticed Johnson can take a massive jump this upcoming season.
Speaking to reporters, Williams said Johnson is “[a] guy who scratched the surface last year and the different things he can do. He’s bigger, stronger, faster. That young guy right there took the initiative this offseason to get way better. I for sure know he is going to have a breakout year.” Saleh echoed the same message saying “He (Johnson) looks explosive, he’s very powerful.”
Jermaine Johnson Has Always Been A Hard Worker
Johnson isn’t new to the grind. He’s a player who will always put the work in to get better and won’t give up until he achieves success. Johnson began his college career in JUCO, attending Independence Community College after being ruled ineligible to play Division I football in 2017. After two years in JUCO, he transferred to Georgia. Across two seasons as a Bulldog, he amassed 36 total tackles and 6.5 sacks. The Minnesota native decided to transfer to Florida State and exploded in 2021. He finished with 70 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, and a team-high 12.5 sacks.
The Florida State Product Continues to Flash During Breakout Summer
Johnson has been nearly unblockable through training camp. He is consistently causing havoc behind the line of scrimmage and getting into the backfield. The 2022-first-round pick also said he “cut body fat and feels more explosive.” Johnson was utterly dominant in the preseason outing against the Carolina Panthers. The Florida State product showcased a beautiful spin move that turned into a bull rush right into the quarterback for a sack.
A ridiculous rush from Jermaine Johnson. My lord. Has been on a tear both in camp & preseason. What a second-year jump he appears to have taken.
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) August 12, 2023
He finished that contest with three total tackles, two quarterback hits, and 0.5 sacks in very limited action. Johnson possesses all the skills needed to be a breakout edge rusher and it looks like he’s starting to put it all together. The Jets’ defensive line is filled with dynamic and relentless pass rushers. Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbirch love to rotate up front but Johnson will carve out a role for himself. How big will it be? Only time will tell but he’s off to a great start.
Main Photo: Jim Dedmon – USA Today Sports