Of the two dozen or so seniors from last year’s Georgia Southern roster, only two secured NFL contracts. Neither were drafted, but both have a shot at making their respective 53-man rosters.
Raymond Johnson III - DE, New York Giants
Johnson was a three-star weakside end from the class of 2017. He played at Sumter High in South Carolina where he was named the state’s defensive lineman of the year three times.
In his four years in Statesboro, Johnson was a key component of the defensive line. He missed just one game the entire time and started all but the first three games of his freshman year. He was an honorable mention for the All-Sun Belt team as a true freshman.
Johnson captured two first team selections and a second team All-Sun Belt nod over his next three years and was an All-American in 2020.
While at Southern, Johnson’s tape wasn’t terribly exciting. His small frame for a lineman and average athleticism are hard to miss - but he was consistently making positive plays for the Eagles.
Johnson signed with the Giants in May after not receiving any calls during the draft. He is one of a handful of edge rushers New York added this offseason, including rookie Azeez Ojulari.
The Giants run a very fluid defensive scheme. Between weeks, drives, or even plays, they transition between 4-3, 3-4, and nickel packages. Such a malleable defense means instead of, say, seven positions that need to have both starters and backups, the number can shoot as high as fifteen. That means positions will have less depth and players must be multi-faceted if they want to make the cut. Positions that would typically be four men deep may only be granted two spots.
This does not bode well for Johnson. He played exclusively as a 4-3 end in high school and college. His size (or lack thereof) does hint at a potential transition to a 3-4 backer, but by the time he becomes good enough in that role to make the roster he may have already have been cut.
It is unlikely he makes the 53-man roster in New York purely due to their defensive roster composition philosophy, but it would be a mistake to outright cut him. He holds high upside as a rotational lineman. A practice squad position would be far more appropriate and could prove beneficial if New York wants to develop him.
Ryan Langan- LS, Los Angeles Chargers
It is no surprise Langan was not selected in the 2021 draft; he’s a long snapper.
That said, he’s a damn good long snapper.
Langan was a center and long snapper for his high school’s six-man football team He didn’t play 11v11 in high school. In fact, his first ‘real’ football game was as GSU’s true freshman long snapper in a 2017 game against Auburn.
Admittedly, it is difficult to analyze or evaluate a long snapper without film on each of his snaps. But it says something that a kid from a school not big enough to field a full football team took all but one snap while at GSU; the snap he missed he volunteered to another senior to give him his first collegiate snap.
Over four years Langan was a two-time All-Sun Belt player and was named to Phil Steele’s All-American Third Team. He was a finalist for the Patrick Mannely Long Snapper of the Year Award but lost to Alabama’s Thomas Fletcher; Fletcher was one of two long snappers drafted in 2021.
Cole Mazza has been the Chargers’ long snapper for the past two years. As mentioned, it is near impossible for an outside to truly evaluate the performance of such a stat-less position.
However, Mazza is on the final season of his three-year contract. He is making $850 thousand this year; Langan’s deal gives him $660 thousand.
As the cheaper option, Langan doesn’t have to outperform Mazza in camp or during preaseason; he just has to match him. If the two are comparable in performance, L.A. could very well choose the cheaper player.