Summary: Johnson wasn’t on a lot of draft radars heading into the 2012 season. He was a quarterback in junior college in 2008 before switching to tight end. After redshirting with the Sooners in 2009, Johnson started out the 2010 season as a tight end before moving to defensive end. He finally found a home at right tackle in 2011. The senior won won the left tackle spot for this year and became an All-Big XII Second-Team pick and an Academic All-Big XII First-Team selection.
Johnson played extremely well in 2012. He did a superb job protecting the blind side of quarterback Landry Jones. Against Texas and defensive end Alex Okafor, Johnson had a very good game as the Sooners handled the Longhorns. He closed out his career by playing well against Texas A&M and its edge-rushers including Damontre Moore.
Johnson used the Senior Bowl to pop from being a fringe first-rounder to a pick in the top half of Round 1. He was the second-most impressive blocker in Mobile – behind only Eric Fisher. Johnson was rock-solid in pass protection in the one-on-ones. He clearly has been well-developed by the Sooners coaching staff to protect the blind side.
There is no doubt that Johnson is a rare athlete. He is as fast as a tight end and is just scratching the surface of his potential. Johnson has light, quick feet to get depth in his drop and negate speed rushes. His phenomenal agility lets him glide with pass-rushers, while speed-rushers get frustrated with his ability to mirror. Johnson is also quick to react and negate rushes to the inside. Entering the NFL, Johnson is a legitimate pass-protector.
Johnson has potential in the ground game, but will need some more work. He could use more strength to move defensive linemen. Still, Johnson has the frame to add more weight while maintaining his quickness. He looked like he was hiding his 300 pounds at the Senior Bowl weigh-in. There is little doubt that Johnson will be able to add a significant amount of weight once he enters an NFL strength and conditioning program.
The athletic Johnson would be a perfect fit in a zone-blocking scheme. His athleticism, quickness and agility makes him a prototypical blocker for a zone scheme. If Johnson is drafted into a man-blocking scheme, he will need some time to add power for the ground game.
Many believe that Johnson has more upside than Cental Michigan’s Eric Fisher or Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel. However, because Johnson has only one season of experience at left tackle, he could use more developmental time. Johnson might be better off starting out at right tackle for a year or two before moving over to the left side.
With his elite pass-protection skills, it looks like Johnson is going to be selected in the top 16 and is a near lock for the top 20.
Player Comparison: Trent Williams. Johnson is similar to Williams, another former Sooner. Both are extremely athletic with elite speed and agility. Williams was a more powerful run-blocker entering the NFL and is a more polished prospect. Williams (6-5, 325) is heavier than Johnson, but after some time in the NFL, Johnson should weigh in the range of 310-320 pounds. If he is developed well, he could be a tackle who plays similar to the pro bowler Williams.
NFL Matches: Arizona, San Diego, Miami, St. Louis, Chicago
There are a number of teams that could consider Johnson early in the first round. The Cardinals have to upgrade their offensive line and sorely need a reliable pass-protecting left tackle. If Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are off the board, Johnson should be a finalist for the Cardinals first-rounder.
The Chargers badly need tackle help, too, and Johnson would be a good protector for Philip Rivers. San Diego seems unlikely to pass on Johnson.
The Dolphins needs a left tackle unless they reverse course and re-sign Jake Long or another veteran tackle. Johnson would make a lot of sense as the blind-side protector for Ryan Tannehill.
The Rams could really use Johnson, but they probably will have to trade up to land him. Johnson would finally fill the hole as the left tackle to protect Sam Bradford. Another team that would have to trade for Johnson, but needs him, is the Bears. Chicago showed a ton of interest in Johnson at the Senior Bowl, but it seems very unlikely that he’ll make it to their pick.
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