14 Aug Preseason Scouting Notes: Mustafa Johnson, DL, Colorado
Senior | 6’2” 290 lbs | Turlock, CA | First Team All-PAC 12
Mustafa Johnson is a solid athlete overall with good explosiveness off the ball and the balance to recover from awkward positions. His below average change of direction ability and less than ideal foot speed can hurt his pursuit in the open field.
As a pass rusher, he fires off strong out of his stance with good initial impact to knock back the OL and uses aggressive arm extension to create a two-way go. After initial contact, he can either continue driving back with his powerful lower body to dirty the pocket or use quick hands to use his favorite swim move over the top. He shows very active hands to prevent OL hand placement and can be effective with his push/pull move.
His lower body strength allows him to be an effective disrupter setting up stunt loops and he is agile enough to loop effectively himself. With good body control, he has the ability to get skinny between blockers or flash the spin move as part of his varied pass rush arsenal. He does not have the burst to be effective as a speed rusher and can struggle to bring down more mobile QBs. Though he has many tools at his disposal, Johnson does not consistently show a pass rush plan to tie it all together.
Against the Run:
When firing off the line to stop the run, Johnson shows good pad level and hip roll to get underneath the pads of the OL and establish control by locking out his arms. He has the anchor ability to play two-gap assignments and uses his hands well to set up his feet to maintain half-man in one-gap looks. He then uses his strong hands to pull and shed the blocker to make the play. When setting the edge, he does a good job of squeezing down the line to narrow inside gaps while maintaining gap integrity.
When he does not fire off, sitting back to wait for the play, he can allow his pad level to rise and can be blown back off the line by stronger OL. Not particularly rangy as a run defender, he struggles to make plays in pursuit due to a lack of foot speed and change of direction ability, though it is not for lack of effort.
– (2019) Suffered an ankle injury which sidelined him for 3 weeks (Week 4)
Johnson is a thick, powerful DL who fits best as a 5-tech in a 3-4 scheme, though he could function as a 3-tech in a 4-3 as well. He wins primarily with his strength and hand usage and shows a wide variety of pass rush moves off of his strong initial contact. When firing off the line, he is effective as a run stopper and maintains gap integrity well regardless of assignment. His lack of true speed, inconsistent pass rush plan, and high pad level when sitting back may prevent him from being a top-flight DL prospect, but he is a competitor with a lot to like.
With a deep DL class and Johnson’s lack of athletic upside, look for him to go in the late third to mid-fourth round.
What to watch 2020:
Can he improve his pass rush plan? With a large assortment of moves, knowing when to utilize them will make him much more valuable rushing the QB, a premium trait in today’s game.