Still, I’m confident this is going to wind up being a good pick because the Birds did their homeweork on this kid.
The fact that this young man loves the game of football, is a hard worker and wants to be great, can’t be overemphasized. Later, we’ll talk about the fact that he has the size and athletic ability needed to be a great player.
Johnson has only been playing the offensive tackle position for a couple of years, but he was kicking butt and taking names at this year’s Senior Bowl. He’s been continuously improving and making huge jumps in his play. He’ll benefit from the fact that he will be working with an outstanding new Eagles offensive line coach in Jeff Stoutland, formerly Alabama’s offensive line coach. I see a young, athletic and more skilled Jon Runyan coming to town.
I’ve heard some local sports personalities say Johnson is another Danny Watkins, but I disagree. The former number one pick of the Birds isn’t half the athlete that Johnson is. The big Oklahoma tackle has three qualities which make him an outstanding prospect.
First of all, he’s got quick feet, which allow him to move with the speed rushers coming around the corner. He shuffles with them very easily, so he won’t need to be overanxious against speedy players because his feet are nearly as fast.
The fact that he was a quarterback coming out of high school, then a tight end, a defensive lineman and eventually an offensive tackle showcases his ability to move his feet. If you can do the footwork needed to play quarterback and tight end, you can do the footwork needed to play offensive tackle.
Remember that the guy playing on the other side of the Eagles offensive line Jason Peters, came into the league as a free agent tight end for the Buffalo Bills and he grew into the NFL’s best offensive tackle. Peters will be a great sounding board for Johnson.
Secondly, he has outstanding body control. I’ve seen him set and then reset versus quality pass rushers. This is a requirement for offensive tackles and he’s got it. He ran the best time for all of the offensive tackles in the 20-yard shuttle run, which requires tremendous body control to execute it.
The third quality Johnson has is his exceptionally long arms. Long arms give him an advantage on the pass rusher. He can get his hands on the pass rusher first. It’s like a boxer having a reach advantage on his opponent.
The final quality the kid has is his mean streak. He finishes his blocks. Johnson loves to bury the guy he’s blocking.