Lane Johnson Oklahoma Very good athlete to play LT at the next level with huge upside. He has limited experience at the position, though, having been a former quarterback and tight end before moving to starting tackle out of necessity. Excellent size and length for the position. Athletic skill set is off the charts, which was displayed at combine and is seen in his DNA (film). Don’t be fooled, however – despite temperament and flashing “nasty,” this OT needs refinement, finish, technique and more development to become a top-flight option at the position. Pass blocker with good quickness out of stance; effective set and chop production. Plays with natural balance, bent knees and feet to slide laterally. Technique is spotty at times, but athletic ability allows him to defeat edge player with double arm bar punch and finish. Will get beat off edge vs. smaller, quicker defenders. Good FBI (football instincts) and awareness, but gets beat across face; needs work defeating inside movement to slide feet and protect inside. Inline run blocker to collision defender; leads with hat, flat back and hips to flashed snap and fires feet to finish with productive movement. Good combo; sifts through to second level, locating and working to attack target on the move. Aligns in 2/3 point stance and RT unbalanced formation. When I watched this player, I was struck by his possessing the best upside of all OT prospects. But, will he hit those expectations with only one year at the position? Coaches will push their respective GMs to take this player high based solely on his athletic skill set. Softli – First-round talent, wild-card pick.
University of Oklahoma Sooners
Groveton High School
The debate will go on even after the 2013 NFL Draft is concluded – the best offensive tackle in the 2013 draft class is? A horse race – with Johnson rapidly closing on the more heralded pair of Luke Joeckel, the Texas A&M Outland Trophy winner and Eric Fisher, the finest blocker produced by a Mid-American Conference school since the Chippewas rewarded the San Francisco 49ers with All-Pro offensive tackle Joe Staley in 2007.
One thing is for certain, none of the players in this draft class has undergone more of a metamorphous during their gridiron career than this once 202-pound high school senior quarterback and safety. Based on his domination throughout practices at the 2013 Senior Bowl, followed by one of the most outstanding athletic performances ever by an offensive lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine, no player has captured the attention of NFL scouts or seen their draft stock rise as much as Johnson’s.
A quiet, yet confident player, even Johnson recognizes that he is the most athletic offensive lineman eligible for the draft. He is still refining all of his mechanics of being a blocker and does not have the years of experience playing in the trenches like the more heralded Joeckel and Fisher, but in the day and age of the shotgun offense, the arrival of the read-option and the cat-like defensive ends playing in the National Football League, teams are turning towards athleticism when trying to find a franchise left tackle.
It seems a bit strange to “lump” Johnson in with the position’s elite players entering the final weeks leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft. After all, just back in August, 2012, Johnson began fall camp fighting for a starting role on Oklahoma’s offensive line. By the season opener, he had moved into the lineup; and today, Johnson is a widely projected top draft pick after an impressive performance at last month’s Senior Bowl, where he showcased athleticism and speed uncommon for offensive linemen.
Rapid change isn’t new, though, to Johnson, a former quarterback, tight end, safety and defensive end at Groveton High School, who finally found a home as an offensive tackle two years ago. He played quarterback at Kilgore College, but switched to tight end, which is where he began his Oklahoma career. He changed again to defensive end, then to offensive tackle before his junior season.
Over that span, Johnson transitioned himself from a tall, lanky quarterback to an imposing, powerful offensive tackle. But even as he gained weight, Johnson kept his speed, which he demonstrated throughout Senior Bowl week, especially on one very memorable play during the game. Former Utah State cornerback Will Davis returned an interception 25 yards before Johnson — in a dead sprint — caught up near the sideline and shoved him out.
From the preseason position battle to critics, to whom he has sometimes responded, Johnson said those who question his ability drive him to work harder. “A lot of people underestimate me,” Johnson said. “I take people’s criticism to heart. It’s what fuels me and drives me to get where I’m at today.”
It is hard to believe that this once 202-pound quarterback is now an imposing offensive lineman. Johnson has a tall, angular frame with developing muscles, long arms, large hands and minimal body fat (11.4%). He has wide hips, thick thighs and a frame that can carry at least another 25 pounds of bulk with no loss in quickness. He has a thick chest, broad shoulders and very good flexibility.
Johnson has excellent athletic agility for this position. He still possesses the loose hip, lower body flexibility and valid quickness of a tight end, coming off the snap with very good explosion. He is quick to get out on the edge and shows very fluid knee and ankle bend when changing direction.
The offensive lineman adds a good blend of strength, especially in his hand jolt. He moves well in the open, doing a nice job of locating and neutralizing linebackers. He shows outstanding acceleration on pulls and traps, running with short pitter-patter steps with the plant-&-drive agility to redirect.
Coming off the snap, Johnson is quick to get his hands into the defender to lock on and control. He has good forward body lean to maintain the rush lane and can move the pile when he uses his legs to drive hard and gain leverage. With added bulk, he could be exceptional as a drive blocker. He has the feet to stay on blocks and sustain and stays on his feet well for a player of his size.
Johnson has the quickness to work from the spread and shotgun offense, but with his foot speed, he was very effective at sliding out to neutralize the edge rushers. He could use more bulk to anchor, but he has the feet, balance and body control to ride his man out of the play. He is fluid with his shuffle/slide and stays square and balanced attacking the defender. Even if he gets over-extended, he has the quickness to recover.
The first thing you notice on film is Johnson’s ability to explode off the snap. He has excellent initial quickness, showing a strong base with the suddenness to get his hands into the defender in an instant. He is very light on his feet for a player of his size, showing quick reactions to combat any defensive movement. Whether lining up in a two- or three-point stance, he can set up to protect the edge with good urgency.
Before he embarked on his collegiate career, Johnson played a variety of positions on both sides of the ball at Groveton High School. As a 6:06 quarterback and safety, he earned All-District 23 first-team, All-Region III/1A and honorable mention All-State recognition in 2008, guiding the Indians to a 9-3 record. He also lettered in track, as he placed fourth in the shot put at the state’s track championships.
Johnson was not recruited much during his prep career, outside of Rice, Southern Methodist, Stanford, Texas Christian, Tulane and Tulsa showing just mild interest. Rather than walk on at any of those schools, he enrolled at Kilgore College in 2008. He saw limited action behind Shane Fry at quarterback, hitting on 32-of-61 passes for 510 yards and three touchdowns in nine games.
Johnson then transferred to the University of Oklahoma in 2009, where the staff tried to convert him to tight end while keeping him on the scout team, thus retaining two years of college eligibility. In 2010, he saw limited action in seven games, as the now 265-pound sophomore began the year third on the depth chart at tight end, but closed out the season playing on the opposite side of the ball at defensive end.
In the spring of 2011, Johnson begrudgingly moved from defensive end to the offensive line due to injuries on that side of the ball. He spent the summer bulking up in order to compete at his new position, arriving at 296 pounds for the start of fall camp. He didn’t start the season opener vs. Tulsa, but lined up at right tackle for every game the rest of the year. Johnson connected on 82 knockdowns while coming up with eleven touchdown-resulting blocks, despite basically playing on instinct while refining his still raw blocking skills.
In 2012, Johnson shifted to left tackle. With the senior protecting Landry Jones’ blindside, the quarterback led an aerial attack that ranked fifth in the nation with an average of 336.46 yards per game and placed 15th nationally in scoring (38.15 ppg). He earned All-American and All-Big Twelve Conference recognition after he posted 123 knockdowns and delivered nineteen touchdown-resulting blocks.
Invited to play in the 2013 Senior Bowl, Johnson joined Eric Fisher of Central Michigan in putting on a dominating performance vs. defensive linemen for league decision makers in attendance during practices. Fisher was spectacular, but Johnson was also impressive and most felt that he left Mobile not far behind Fisher in the tackle rankings.
Lining up at both left and right tackle, Johnson looked very natural in his kick slide off the snap with a very wide base to cover a lot of ground, not lumbering or struggling to adjust to edge rushers. Teams did take into consideration that he has only two seasons of experience on the offensive line and it shows at times, but his combination of length (35” arms), hand strength and movement skills truly stand out when you see this player perform.
Johnson appeared in 32 games at Oklahoma, starting 25 contests – twelve at right offensive tackle and thirteen on the left side…In two seasons performing on the offensive front wall, he registered thirty touchdown-resulting blocks and 205 knockdowns.
Johnson earned All-American second-team honors from The NFL Draft Report, as that scouting information service regards him as the finest athlete in the 2013 draft class…Also received third-team All-American accolades from CBS Sports…Added All-Big Twelve Conference second-team accolades from the league’s coaches and was a first-team Academic All-Big Twelve choice…Shifted to left offensive tackle, starting all thirteen contests for a Sooners offense that ranked twelfth in the nation with an average of 497.85 yards per game…Protected Landry Jones’ blind side, as Sooner passers averaged 336.46 aerial yards per game, fifth-best in the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks…Was part of a front wall that was fifteenth in the nation in sacks allowed (fifteen for minus 128 yards, an average of 1.15 per game)…Registered a team-best 123 knockdowns, as his nineteen touchdown-resulting blocks paced the conference’s linemen…Helped the Sooners gain over 600 yards in total offense four times and score multiple times in all but the Notre Dame clash…Registered ten knockdowns and three touchdown-resulting blocks in just over a quarter of action vs. Florida A&M, as Oklahoma ran for eight scores in that contest on the way to amassing 662 total yards…In the Texas clash, he simply dominated All-Big Twelve defensive end Alex Okafor, who managed just an assisted tackle while Oklahoma piled up 677 yards vs. the Longhorns, flattening Okafor on a kick-out block and then racing into the second level to neutralize linebacker Steve Edmond on a 95-yard scoring burst from OU tailback Damien Williams…Recorded fifteen knockdowns as he shut down defensive end Jorge Wright vs. West Virginia, with Oklahoma tallying 662 yards. The left tackle’s sudden retreat inside to protect Landry Jones saw linebacker Josh Francis get shoved into rush end Will Clark by Johnson, giving his QB time to flip an 11-yard touch-down pass to receiver Kenny Stills…The Sooners collected 618 more yards the following week vs. Oklahoma, with Johnson providing two touchdown-resulting blocks, including one that saw Johnson slip off defensive end Ryan Robinson to execute a slip block on linebacker Shaun Lewis during Jones’ 14-yard touchdown pass to Mike Hunnicutt.
An Academic All-Big Twelve Conference first-team selection, Johnson switched from jersey #87 to #69, as he also made a position switch, leaving the defensive line to become an offensive tackle…Bulked up to 296 pounds, but was held out of the season opener vs. Tulsa…By the second game, he replaced Darryl Williams as the first unit’s right tackle, registering eleven touchdown-resulting blocks with 82 knockdowns for his junior season, as he also delivered a solo tackle vs. Kansas State…Part of a front wall that finished seventh in the nation and second in the conference in sacks allowed, yielding just eleven QB drops for minus 80 yards…Helped the Sooners rank tenth in the nation in scoring (39.54 ppg), fifth in total offense (512.31 ypg) and fifth in passing offense (349.38 ypg)…
Part of an offensive unit that amassed at least 600 yards in five games…Credited with ten knockdowns and two touchdown-resulting blocks vs. Kansas, as the team gained 662 yards…Crushed defensive end Andrew Puthoff to clear rush room needed by tailback Dominique Whaley for a 25-yard scoring scamper, as Johnson delivered eight knock-downs for a squad that totaled 655 yards vs. Ball State…A blitz by middle linebacker Arthur Brown was neutralized by Johnson’s slip block, allowing Landry Jones time to find Dejaun Miller with an 11-yard touchdown toss vs. Kansas State, as the Sooners piled up 690 yards.
Johnson began the season as a 268-pound tight end (wore jersey #87) before being moved to the defensive line at midseason…Did not record any tackles or catch any passes…The sophomore appeared in seven games, vs. Florida State, Iowa State, Colorado, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State.
Johnson red-shirted after transferring to the University of Oklahoma…Spent time with the scout team as a 240-pound tight end.
Johnson appeared in nine games as a reserve quarterback for head coach J.J. Eckert at Kilgore College…Competed in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, lining up behind starter Shane Fry…Completed 32-of-61 passes (52.46%) for 510 yards, three touchdowns and seven interceptions, adding 24 yards and a score on seventeen carries… His best games came vs. Blinn College, hitting on 5-of-10 tosses for 145 yards, followed by 178 yards and a touchdown on 10-of-18 attempts vs. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
No injuries reported.
4.72 in the 40-yard dash…1.60 10-yard dash…2.62 20-yard dash…4.52 20-yard shuttle…
7.31 three-cone drill…34-inch vertical jump…9’8” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times…35 ¼-inch arm length…10 1/8-inch hands…83-inch wingspan.
Johnson attended Groveton (Tex.) High School, playing for head coach Keith Thomas…
Played a variety of positions on both sides of the ball…As a 6:06 quarterback and safety, he earned All-District 23 first-team, All-Region III/1A and honorable mention All-State recognition in 2008, guiding the Indians to a 9-3 record…Also lettered in track, as he placed fourth in the shot put at the state’s track championships
Human Relations major…Resides in Groveton, Texas.
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