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Baylor Football

Clay Johnston selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the seventh round of the NFL Draft

April 25, 2020
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Clay Johnston—the catalyst for Baylor’s 2019 record-breaking defense before suffering a season-ending knee injury—has been given an opportunity to resurrect his career in the NFL.

The Los Angeles Rams on Saturday selected Johnston with the 234th overall pick in the seventh round 2020 NFL Draft. A 6-foot-1, 227-pound middle linebacker, Johnston tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while being tackled after making a game-saving interception in an Oct. 12 victory over Texas Tech.

“It absolutely destroyed me,” Johnston told SicEm 365 earlier this month. “It was probably the saddest day of my life.”

Johnston had been Baylor’s best defensive player through the first six games of the season He was averaging 9.7 tackles, which ranked third in the Big 12. His 58 stops were 20 more than anyone on the team.

“I really believe that I’d have been an All-American if I’d have kept performing like I was,” Johnston said. “The coaches were saying I’d have been a second- or third-round pick. But for whatever reason it wasn’t meant to be.

“It hurt my heart but, thankfully, the next day, I just had the attitude of, ‘I can’t do anything about it. It happened. Let’s just move on.’”

Two weeks after his injury, Johnston had his knee repaired by renown surgeon Dr. James Andrews. He’s spent the spring rehabbing and said he’s back to running full speed. He said his ability to change direction is “about 90-95 percent.”

Lance Zierlein, a draft anaylyst for NFL.com, had this to say about Johnston: “Johnston plays with a nice blend of physicality and instincts that help rack up tackles. He rarely stays blocked and does an impressive job of sifting through bodies to find the ball-carrier. He's instinctive and active in zone coverage, but speed limitations hinder his man-cover ability. The football intelligence and instincts help mitigate average athleticism and speed. Johnston could become a special-teams standout with average, three-down-backup ability.”

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Clay Johnston selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the seventh round of the NFL Draft

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