School: Ohio State
The Good: As much as any prospect in this upcoming NFL Draft, Paris Johnson Jr. has the physical look of the epitome of his position. Johnson has a 6’6”, 313lbs frame and his arms measured at 36⅛” at the Combine – within the Top 10 at the position over the last decade. For that reason, he’ll likely receive comps to recent high picks at the left tackle position with similarly long builds like Andrew Thomas and Ronnie Stanley. On the field, Johnson plays light on his feet and has enough functional strength to stand up bull rushers. He’s a swift blocker who combo blocks well, and he is at his best in the power run game when Johnson can square up the man in front of him and push him backwards. I get the sense in watching his tape that Johnson is a smart and hard-working player; pad level could be a concern for his height but Johnson is consistent in getting low to earn it.
The Bad: Johnson will still be 21 years old on the night of the NFL Draft, and he plays like it. He has a ways to go with his technique, both with his feet and hands. Johnson has a recurring problem with oversetting out of his stance right now – which is common for young tackles – and he can get his skis crossed shuffling in pass protection. He isn’t an effective run blocker on the move yet; Johnson usually will just throw his front shoulder at the defender and hope that’s enough. He needs to improve at landing his hands in both the run and pass games, and Johnson doesn’t strike his hands in unison enough either. I think it will benefit Johnson to land with a team that has him gain some weight and encourages him to play with more ferocity. 313lbs skews to the lighter side of NFL OTs, and Johnson was too passive and on his heels playing on Ohio State’s line.
The Bottom Line: I understand why Johnson has already declared for the Draft – he’s going to be selected in the Round 1 with his length and athleticism – but he’s the type of OL prospect that I would’ve loved to stay at college for another year to further refine his game. The transition from college to the NFL is as tough for offensive tackles as it is for just about any other position, and Johnson still has plenty of development left ahead of him. He’s almost certainly going to take his lumps as a rookie, so whatever team selects Johnson early in the Draft will bank on him being mentally tough enough to shake off his early struggles – like the aforementioned Andrew Thomas has with the Giants. That is way easier said than done; Thomas was a blue-chip and far better prospect than Johnson in my opinion, and he had the fallback of kicking inside to guard that I don’t necessarily see as an option in the NFL for Johnson. (Johnson did start at right guard during his sophomore year for the Buckeyes, but I wasn’t overly impressed by what I saw from him there.) The good news for Johnson is that I thought he improved as his junior season went along; his game against Penn State was simultaneously the last and best of his that I watched. I like Johnson and he has the tools that you can’t teach at left tackle, but he’s currently being pegged in the top half of Round 1 in mock drafts and that would be too much of a gamble for my liking.
Grade: Late First Round / Early Second Round
Pro Comp: Cam Robinson
- Oregon 2021
- Notre Dame 2022
- Wisconsin 2022
- Iowa 2022
- Penn State 2022