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INDIANAPOLIS – Chris Ballard went to one of his favorite position groups to start Day 3 of the NFL Draft.

With the 159th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Colts took Missouri State defensive lineman Eric Johnson in Round Five .

Here are 3 takeaways on Johnson:


Durable Eric Johnson

You don’t often hear the phrase “5-year starer” for an NFL draft prospect, but that’s the case with Eric Johnson. With the extra year due to COVID, Johnson started 47 games over 5 seasons at Missouri State. The 6-4, 299-pound defensive lineman had 6.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in his career. Probably the most impressive note of Johnson’s college career is the fact that he never missed a game, despite playing in the interior of the defensive line. Johnson does have some history of blocking kicks. Johnson was a late invite to the Senior Bowl. A knock on him is his age, as he turns 24 years old later this summer.


Under The Radar A Bit

Despite getting that late invite to the Senior Bowl, Johnson was not invited to the Combine, which is something you don’t typically see for a 5th round pick. Johnson has a strong wrestling background, and put on more than 60 pounds in college as he focused on football. Known for his first-step quickness, Johnson’s ability there is important to the defensive change under Gus Bradley. Along the defensive line, it’s all about now getting vertical and up field right at the snap. That’s a change from Matt Eberflus, so this selection is a nod to the change in emphasis in the defensive front.


Defensive Tackle Depth 

Similar to the offensive line, defensive line depth was a question entering the draft. In the interior, the Colts no longer have some depth pieces in Taylor Stallworth and Antwaun Woods. On the run downs, the Colts could use some help in rotating DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart. Again, the pass rush packages in the interior have other guys to turn to in Dayo Odeyingbo and Tyquan Lewis. But Chris Ballard has always been a guy wanting 8-ish defensive linemen to rotate, so Johnson should have a chance to compete for some interior rotational snaps.

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