NFL Draft’s Justifiable Jets: Lane Johnson

With the 2013 NFL Draft less than a month away, TJB will offer some daily insight on players in this year’s draft class.  Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Jets to make a selection.

lanejohnson

Lane Johnson

LANE JOHNSON
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Oklahoma
Height: 6’6″ Weight: 303 pounds

Achievements:
2012 All-American (CBS Sports)

Where the Jets could get him: Round 1.  A month ago, the thought of Johson being available at the ninth pick seemed unlikely, but Johnson has been tracking steadily in the 7-11 range and the former quarterback might be available to the Jets.

Explaining his game: Johnson is well sized and has great length (35.25″ arm span) to play tackle at the NFL and it is paired with his good speed (4.69 second 40 yard dash) and agility which will allow him to be a solid NFL-level tackle.  Johnson’s athletic background and mobility make him fearsome when called to pass protect or run-block on the move.

Johnson uses his athleticism well, has good foot quickness and is able to mirror pass rushers and ride them safely out of the play whether they are speedsters or bull-rushers.  Johnson has good technique and can play with good pad level to maintain leverage.  Johnson is known for a strong hand-punch and he relishes the opportunity to tangle with defenders and use his long arms to keep them at a distance and drive them out of the play.  The Sooner is also known for having a bit of a mean streak and he plays with “attitude.” Johnson is known as a great second level blocker and is athletic enough to maintain blocks, pull outside the tackle box or behind the line in whatever the play and scheme requires.

Johnson was a (BIG) high school quarterback and played as a backup during his time at junior college for one season.  Then, Johnson transferred to Oklahoma as switched to tight end, then defensive end and then right tackle over the course of his first three seasons with the Sooners. In 2012, Johnson was moved to left tackle and played excellently in that spot. While Johnson moved around a lot, it was only because of his athleticism, power and technique that helped him play as well as he did, as quickly as he did on the offensive line.

Notes: Jets RT Austin Howard did a great job considering the circumstances of coming in cold and playing the right tackle spot for the Jets.  Howard has power is an excellent run blocker but as anyone would expect, had a tough time defending the likes of Cameron Wake and some of the league’s pure speed players.  That notwithstanding, Howard ended up ranked as the #31 offensive tackle in the league in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus.  Essentially, he was in the top half of all league starters at the tackle spot.

With the loss of Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, right now the Jets line is considered around the league as a liability, but having partially addressed the interior with the signing of Willie Colon, what if the Jets were to draft one of the 2013 class’s top tackles?  The team would improve quickly by moving Howard inside to a guard spot where he could be deadly as a run-blocking force and use Johnson’s incredible agility, power and speed to take on speed rushers on the right side.  Not that I expect anything in the near-term, but the addition of a player Johnson would also give the team more flexibility in what to do with D’Brick longer term.  Johnson could play on the right side until such opportunity allows him to switch sides.  While we expect Brick to be a cornerstone for many years (Woody loves him) his contract turns cap savings positive in the face of eight figure cap numbers in 2014 and moving more that direction the closer the team gets to 2017.

Articles on Johnson:

OU’s Lane Johnson goes from quarterback to offensive tackle

Lane Johnson still in the running for starting job at OU

OT Lane Johnson aims to silence doubters (ESPN Insider, subscription required)

Lane Johnson is the fastest offensive lineman out of his stance

NFL Draft: Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson used to rapid change

OU’s Lane Johnson could be top-five pick with Lions

Video: A compilation of Johnson’s highlights as a Sooner.

For a longer video see this one which logs most of his snaps against Texas A&M.