Micah Parsons has the second fastest recorded time for a linebacker in the history of the NFL Scouting Combine at 4.39 seconds.
Now, picture a tandem with the Dallas Cowboys featuring Parsons, the 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and a linebacker as fast or faster than him.
Meet Kyron Johnson, a Fort Worth native who played at Arlington Lamar and Kansas, who wowed the Cowboys at their workout for local products and is drawing a lot of interest in the pre-draft circuit because of his blazing speed.
He was timed as low as 4.29 during his pre-draft workouts at Built 4 It Athletics, a performance training facility in Prosper owned by former Cowboys safety Kavon Frazier.
He clocked an eye-popping 4.36 at his Kansas Pro Day and then went 4.4 when he ran the 40 against his trainers and agents’ wishes at the Cowboys’ local workout.
Can you blame him?
Johnson played with the Tarrant County Cowboys during his peewee league football career and it would be the ultimate dream to get drafted and play for the hometown Cowboys.
“I loved being there,” Johnson said. “It was something about being in my hometown. I had always seen myself playing at the highest level. To be here doing it is a dream.”
Johnson’s dream has merit and has picked up a lot of steam after a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, then being snubbed by not being invited to the combine, only to open eyes again with his 40-yard dash at the Kansas Pro Day.
NFL teams looking for run-and-hit ST players need to look no further than @KU_Football Kyron Johnson. Checkout natural explosion here against likely top-15 pick Trevor Penning, who’s 6” and 107 lbs heavier than Johnson. Now picture @krjohn15 running down on KO or punt team! pic.twitter.com/oqHneJIwr8
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 21, 2022
Once considered a prospect to go unpicked in the 2022 NFL Draft, scheduled for April 28-30, Johnson is now ranked No. 92 on former Cowboys scout Gil Brandt’s Top 100 picks on NFL.com. He is a good bet to go in Day 3 of the draft, possibly as high as the fourth round.
He has visited the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and he is slated to meet the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday. More teams and visits are on the horizon.
Now, he still has a ways to go before lining up next to Parsons in what would be the fastest linebacker tandem in NFL history.
He knows he will have to make his mark on special teams first no matter where he gets drafted or where he goes.
But the Cowboys have taken notice.
“The defensive line coach [Aden Durde] liked me,” Johnson said. “The special teams coach [John Fassel] said he could use my speed. His eyes were on me.
“And the linebacker coach [George Edwards] said he could use another speedster to play with Parsons.”
Whether it’s the Cowboys or not, Johnson is on the brink of fulfilling a lifelong dream that was forged by hard work and dedication and built on a solid family foundation cultivated by parents Stephanie and Broderic Johnson.
Stephanie played basketball at Dunbar and Broderic was a three-sport star at Carter-Riverside in football, basketball and track.
Johnson is finishing a journey started by his dad, who played football at Cisco Junior College after high school before quitting.
“I didn’t want to do work to get where I wanted to be,” Broderic said. “I didn’t have a support system. I didn’t make it. I wanted to make sure he had what I didn’t have.”
At 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, there are questions about whether Johnson is too small to play defensive end in the NFL.
Shaun Smith, a former NFL defensive lineman with the Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs, helped Johnson prepare for the draft. He said Johnson is a weak side linebacker who can be an edge rusher on passing downs and a potential speed demon on special teams.
Said Broderic: “I think he is the right size. It’s easier to break a long stick than a short stick. He is a football player.”
Johnson was a three-star prospect in high school who picked Kansas because it was the first school to offer him a scholarship and he didn’t waver when others started coming after him.
He majored in human biology with aspirations of becoming a doctor.
Johnson said he would have preferred to stay in Texas for college but he is glad he went to Kansas as it exposed him to a lot of different people and situations on and off the field.
The changing on-field situation at Kansas is the reason he has a chance to be better in the NFL than he was in college.
Kansas had four head coaches during his five-year career. He also dealt with 8-10 position coaches because of the head coaching changes as well as his frequent position changes.
He played inside linebacker, outside linebacker, defensive end, edge and safety in college as well as the defense going back and forth from the 3-4 to the 4-3 to the 3-4 alignment.
He still earned second-team All-Big 12 Honors as a senior in 2021 after recording career highs in total tackles (63), tackles for loss (8.5), sacks (6.5), forced fumbles (4), and fumble recoveries (2).
With a 42-inch vertical leap to go with his speed, Johnson was known as one of the best athletes to ever play at Kansas.
“I haven’t had a position I could learn for multiple years,” Johnson said. “I had to learn it one year and switch. I think I can excel in the NFL, knowing I will have a solid coach and system for two three years. It would give me a chance to get comfortable.”
Johnson is just waiting for the opportunity now.
He said doesn’t care what round he goes in. He just wants the opportunity to play.
Stephanie said the family has a preferred destination. Although they live in Fort Worth, they purposely sent him to school in Arlington at Lamar because that was where they felt that was the best place for him to excel.
He played at AT&T Stadium in high school and fell in love with the Cowboys’ headquarters at the Star in Frisco.
“We want him at home,” Stephanie said. “The Cowboys are the team. We can’t be mad wherever he goes. God has blessed him. It’s just amazing that this has come to pass.”
Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.