It has been a very eventful offseason in Philadelphia. The Eagles have been busy filling needs through free agency and the draft. One of the overlooked needs of the Eagles is their special teams unit. Philadelphia might have found the solution in last month’s draft.
In the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Kyron Johnson. What does Johnson bring to the Eagles? Can he be the team’s next special team ace?
Who Is Kyron Johnson?
Kyron Johnson was born on July 24, 1998, in Arlington, Texas. He played his college football at the University of Kansas. Johnson played both linebacker and edge defender for the Jayhawks.
Johnson primarily played special teams his freshman year and recorded 17 tackles in eight games. He made his debut as a linebacker during his sophomore season. Johnson had a productive junior season by recording 55 tackles in 2019. He had 42 tackles and three sacks in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.
Kyron Johnson came back for his fifth season in 2021 and made the switch to edge defender. He had his best year by recording 63 tackles (8.5 for a loss) and 6.5 sacks. Johnson’s efforts were rewarded as he was named to the Second-Team All-Big 12.
Kyron Johnson lacks the true NFL size and measurables to be a starting linebacker or edge defender. He is listed at 6’0″ and 235 lbs. Johnson’s best chance in the NFL is in special teams.
Johnson is flexible and fast. He plays with high energy and quickness. Johnson can play the whole field to finish plays. He can make up ground in space and is a great tackler. This skillset is perfect for special teams coverage.
As for weaknesses, Johnson lacks the strength and size to be a position player. His shorter arms allow linemen to easily beat him one on one. He sometimes struggled to read plays as a defender. Johnson has the potential to be a backup, but likely won’t make an impact as an NFL defender.
Was This A Good Draft Pick?
Johnson could potentially fill a need on the Eagles’ special teams. He could bring energy and quickness to kickoff and punt coverage. This is where he excels and where the Eagles struggled in 2021.
Last season, the Eagles allowed the opposing team to average 26.1 yards per return on kickoffs. This was the fifth-worst in the NFL. The Eagles ranked 25th out of 32 teams in net punt average with 38.8 yards. Philadelphia ranked in the middle of the league for punt return yards allowed.
The Eagles need better production in special teams coverage. Too often, the Eagles would allow a big return and force their defense to work with a short field. This got the Eagles behind early in several games last year including the postseason.
Kyron Johnson has an opportunity to use his skillset to make the Eagles’ special teams a force this season. He was not drafted to be a piece of the defensive line or linebacker group but could provide depth there.
As a sixth-round pick, the Johnson pick was a low risk, but hopefully, be a high reward on special teams.