CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 02: Michael Johnson #93 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates during the 23-20 victory against the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Sometimes expectations can heavily weigh into someone's perspectives regarding a player. It happens to Rey Maualuga, who requires 200 tackles, five interceptions and five forced fumbles to be deemed a success. Yet he was a second-round selection, produced reasonably well based on that position and he's often deemed a bust, failure or disappointment. Same goes for Michael Johnson, selected during the same NFL draft in 2009, but one round later.
During his three seasons with the Bengals, Johnson has played all 48 games, started 15, generated 11.5 quarterback sacks, including a career-high 6.0 last season. Additionally Johnson generated a forced fumble, fumble recovery and an interception during the season opener against the Cleveland Browns during Cincinnati's postseason run last year. He was one of only two players (Nate Clements) to record a tackle, sack, pass defensed, interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Despite all of that there's been a lot to be desired. He's generated one of the league's worse pass pressures per pass rush ratios, according to Pro Football Focus and as the season drug on, his high-number of defensive snaps last year wore him down.
That being said Johnson appears to have refocused himself by bulking up and generating more strength, anticipating more of a specialized role than the every down player that Marvin Lewis believes wore him out when the team needed him the most. In all honesty, this was one of our "unsure" selections of the list, but reports of him dedicating himself over the offseason, as well as it being a contract year, we could see Johnson putting together his best season yet.