Lane Johnson | Offensive Tackle | Oklahoma | 6'6'', 302 pounds
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones can be a dangerous passer when the pocket is clean. Offensive tackle Lane Johnson was the man keeping that pocket clean, tasked with keeping defender's out of Jones' face and proved himself worthy of first round consideration in the process.
Johnson is a former tight end turned tackle, so athleticism won't be much of an issue. Johnson actually played quarterback at Kilgore College before enrolling at Oklahoma. His background is an interesting one and should help him make the mental transition to the next level.
Johnson possesses ideal athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL. He drops comfortably into his stance and bends his knees well to avoid waste bending and lunging at his opponents. Johnson has textbook footwork, mirrors defenders well and has the strength to anchor at the line of scrimmage in pass protection. He slides his feet well and rarely lets a defender beat him to the edge clean.
Johnson is also a smart football player. He consistently knows his assignment and attacks the proper shoulder of the man he is lined up against in the running game. He knows how to steer defenders away from the hole and bait defenders upfield to open up lanes in the running game.
With prototypical size for a tackle prospect, Johnson has the arm length to keep defenders out of his body with a strong initial punch. His athleticism comes into play when Johnson is run blocking. He always finds a way to get to the second level of the defense in a hurry and engage in a block quickly. This speaks to his body control and short area quickness.
It's also worth noting that Johnson is a versatile tackle. He has spent time at both left and right tackle during his career and has even switched off between the two during games. He has the body control to play in space and line up wherever the offense needs him in a given situation.
Run blocking is not Johnson's strength. He tends to lunge at his opponents on occasion because he doesn't get a great initial punch off the snap of the ball. Would love to see him develop a bit more of a mean streak out there. He's not as nasty as some of the best NFL linemen tend to be, but he finishes his blocks well.
Johnson is admittedly a bit raw in his technique, but the quick development he has shown has to be encouraging for NFL teams. He still has plenty of room to grow and get stronger, which will do a lot for his game. One of the few flaws Johnson has in pass protection is that he will occasionally allow defenders to cross his face.
Lane Johnson is one of the best offensive tackles available in the 2013 NFL Draft. He's awareness jumps out when watching him play. Athleticism and short area quickness won't be an issue for Johnson. He's going to come off the board at some point in the first round and have a steady career in the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Jordan Gross, Carolina Panthers
Both Johnson and Gross play the game with tremendous awareness and instinct. They also both lack a bit of the mean streak you like to see from an NFL offensive tackle. Johnson has the upside to become a Gross-type anchor on an NFL line.
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