Offensive tackle has been a strength of the last three NFL Draft classes. In each class there have been talented offensive tackles who fit a variety of offensive schemes and have come contributed immediately.
The jury is still out on the 2023 offensive line class, but there are certainly players with potential. One of the most intriguing is Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr., who will be transitioning from guard to tackle in 2022. Will he be able to successfully move to left tackle and potentially raise his draft stock? Or will Johnson “just” be an athletic guard who can back up tackle in a pinch?
Like every other team in the NFL, the New York Giants should always be on the lookout for talented offensive linemen. They might have solidified their tackle positions, but they might yet need interior linemen, and the versatility to play outside is always useful.
Paris Johnson Jr.
OT/OG, Ohio State (Junior)
2021 Games Played: 13
(Johnson Jr. is the right guard, number 77)
- Has a versatile build with good length
- Fluid, easy mover.
- Good lateral agility to mirror interior pass rushers.
- Good hand usage - keeps them up and plays with solid placement.
- Deals well with stunts and twists.
- Picks up and passes off scraping defenders.
- Good competitive toughness and looks for work.
- Works to the second level well
- Good foot speed on pulling, zone, and screen blocks
- Needs to develop more play strength.
- Doesn’t consistently drive defenders off the ball.
- Can allow his base to narrow.
- Needs to be more consistent with leverage.
- Needs to be more consistent taking on power.
Why is he a top prospect?
Johnson started five games as a true freshman and started 13 games at guard as a sophomore. He will, reportedly, be moving to left tackle for the 2022 season. Johnson has a versatile frame with enough thickness to play the guard position, as well as the length and athleticism to move to tackle. Johnson is a good athlete who looks like a great athlete for a guard, which is part of why he was chosen to be OSU’s next left tackle. He has the mobility to mirror speed rushers and blitzers on the interior, and uses his positioning well to usher penetrators around the pocket. He’s quick out of his stance with plenty of foot speed to cover ground as a pulling blocker or downfield on screen plays. Johnson handles stunts, twists, and blitzes well at the guard position. He has solid hands, which he always has at the ready and generally places well on defenders. His hand usage lets him pick up and pass off scraping or looping defenders with ease and constantly looks for work when he doesn’t have anyone to block.
Johnson has great competitive toughness to strain against and stalemate defenders who initially win.He has solid hands, which he always has at the ready and generally places well on defenders.
What to improve for 2022?
The biggest thing Johnson Jr. can do to boost his draft stock over the course of 2022 is to excel at the offensive tackle position. The NFL is always on the lookout for starting offensive tackles and are willing to draft them highly.
Johnson would also do well to show improved play strength and more consistent leverage in the coming season. He can struggle to deal with power rushers in head-to-head situations. Improving his play strength, particularly in his lower body, will help Johnson absorb bullrushes without losing too much ground. Improved play strength will also allow Johnson to more consistently move defenders off the ball. Likewise, he will improve his pass protection and run blocking by playing with better, or at least more consistent, leverage.
One game to watch
This might not be fair, but Johnson’s biggest test at left tackle might come in Ohio State’s Week 1 game against Notre Dame and edgeIsaiah Foskey. Foskey is a big (260-pound), long (6-foot-5), and athletic edge (he was also recruited to play tight end), who is coming off a breakout season in 2021. He racked up 11.0 sacks last year, which not only lead the team but was also the third-most in a season in school history – and 12.5 tackles for a loss as well.
This is going to be go-to scouting tape for Johnson, and a strong performance in reps against a player who’s expected to be one of the top pass rushers this year could be a strong statement for his draft stock.