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Panthers LB DJ Johnson: I gotta earn the right to pass rush

The Carolina Panthers knew they were entering a process when they traded up to draft DJ Johnson two weeks ago—and apparently, so does he.

Johnson spoke with reporters following the second and final installment of rookie minicamp on Saturday afternoon. When asked about having to “set the edge,” a phrase brought up numerous times by general manager Scott Fitterer in regards to the upside of the outside linebacker, he acknowledged what lies ahead of him.

“You gotta earn the right to pass rush,” Johnson stated. “Stoppin’ the run is the first thing and as an outside backer, my job is to set the edge. So it’s a big focus.”

2023’s 80th overall selection, Johnson comes in a bit on the raw side. The 24-year-old even played some tight end during his collegiate career before firmly settling in on defense.

But what Johnson may lack in experience as a pass rusher, he has in that aforementioned upside. The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder, as far as an athletic profile, compares closely to fellow edge defenders in Kayvon Thibodeaux, Josh Allen, Whitney Mercilus and Will Anderson Jr.—all of which were first-round selections.

It’s just a matter of if he reaches that potential, something Fitterer and the Panthers could certainly use on the edge—whether he’s setting it or flying off of it.

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Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire