If you're going to win in the SEC, you need a lot of defenders who can fast and are willing to hit. In Manvel's Brian Johnson, Texas A&M found one.
The first thing you heard about Johnson when A&M offered him was that he was fast. That's certainly true; the kid can fly. In his film, you can see him go sideline to sideline chasing quarterbacks and running backs. In Manvel's 3-3-5 scheme, he frequently lined up as the SAM linebacker, and would come off the edge as a blitzer into the backfield. If he wasn't picked up, the play had no chance. He was simply too fast for anything to develop.
Johnson, who lists himself at 205 pounds, also plays safety. He does a very nice job dropping into coverage, seems to read his assignments well and then, as you've already guessed, breaks on the ball with outstanding speed. Then he hits hard enough to either dislodge the football or knock the receiver off his feet.
Johnson is listed at 6-foot-2 and, if he is 205 pounds, I could easily see him getting to 220 after a season or so in the weight room in college. Right now, he sees himself in a Donovan Wilson type of role, and he's the perfect size at the moment to be a nickel. If he can keep his speed, though, he could easily become a SAM in the not too distant future.
There's a lot I like about this pickup. The speed element is huge, and the potential versatility he brings can't be overlooked. He hits hard, but he's going to have to learn to wrap up in college. The big hits will get shrugged off by a running back wearing an LSU or Alabama jersey, as too many A&M defenders have found out in past years. Once he gets that down, I think he's going to be quite good.
Johnson has a 3-star ranking right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if that gets changed over the course of the 2017 season. He has physical gifts you can't teach, and I'll bet production follows.