Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
The St. Louis Rams need help on the offensive line; that's a fact. So let's learn more about this potential blocker on the blindside for Sam Bradford.
Lane Johnson is the latest first-round pick being mocked to the St. Louis Rams. This former Oklahoma Sooner was the starting left tackle last season, the year before that he played right tackle, so he has some experience. Also it doesn't hurt that quarterback Sam Bradford went to the same college (probably doesn't help either).
So why is this left tackle being mocked to the Rams? The simple answer is because left tackle is the most important position on the offensive line. And guards aren't really valued high.
But, the Rams have shown some sort of interest in Lane Johnson, D.J Fluker, also but that's another story.
Rams met with Lane Johnson in the team suite last night. Met w/ DJ Fluker the night before.— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) February 23, 2013
Lane Johnson is from Groveton, Texas. Johnson played quarterback in high school and at Kilgore College. Then in 2009 he went to Oklahoma. He red-shirted that season, and the next season he played tight end, and then switched mi-season to defensive end. He wasn't done changing positions yet, in 2011 he started 12 of 13 games at right tackle. But he still wasn't done, in 2012 Johnson played left tackle and it looks
Key stats from the combine
Arm Length 35 1/4"
40 yard dash 4.72
Bench press 28 reps
He is very athletic
He's quick enough, so that pass rushers won't just run past him.
Good and quick feet
Good at mirroring defenders
Has a solid anchor (doesn't get pushed back a lot)
Can get to the second level to block linebackers
A really good pass blocker (surprised me)
He's a solid run blocker
He doesn't have a really great first punch
He is kind of light, could gain to add some pounds
He was beat to the inside at times, I'm shocked that defensive ends didn't do it more
Could have trouble handing bullrushs from smaller and strong defensive ends
It seems like he waits more than attacks, which is okay until the defensive end is running by him to the outside and he has to use the defensive end's speed against them. That works in college, but I don't know if it would work in the NFL. He should have the athleticism to do better at it, and a good OL coach would help.
What the draftniks think
STRENGTHS: Johnson looks the part with a large frame and long arms (35"). He has quick feet to mirror and has an effortless kick-slide. Explosive off the snap and sets up quickly, using his extremely wide base to cover a large area. He digs his cleats in the turf and lowers his butt in pass protection with the strong upper body to control defenders.
Johnson does a nice job using his length to keep rushers at bay and uses his physical limbs to eliminate defenders with his nasty attitude. He has large, powerful hands and usually keeps his hands inside. Natural bender with flexible joints, contorting his frame and selling out for blocks. He locks out and seals defenders on the edge, doing a nice job engaging in space to create run lanes.
Has the competitive drive that scouts want for the position and the upside to continue to develop at the position
WEAKNESSES: Room to pack on some more muscle to his frame and strengthen his anchor. He will play undisciplined at times and overextend himself in space, caught hunched at the wait too often. Gets in trouble when he stops his feet and his technique needs refinement. He needs to keep his feet underneath him to better sustain and not fall off blocks.
Johnson needs to keep his eyes elevated in the run game and improve his blocking angles. He plays a tad mechanical and his hand placement can get sloppy at times. He has only played on the offensive line for two seasons and is still rough around the edges at times.
COMPARES TO: Joe Staley, OT, San Francisco 49ers - Johnson is taller and longer than Staley, but they have similar athletic backgrounds and the mobility that makes them impressive in pass protection and blocking on the move.
-- Dane Brugler
Uses his athleticism well, displaying good foot quickness to mirror pass rushers off the edge to deny them the corner and adjust to their inside moves. Easily reaches second-level targets when pulled outside or stepping up in the box, and sustains the block. Generally plays with good pad level and balance despite his height, and can fire out from a three-point stance and generate a bit of push on run plays. Johnson’s feet keep moving through initial contact, allowing him to get into the correct blocking angle while engaged. He also uses his hands and length well to maintain distance with the defender. NFL coaches will like that he plays with an attitude, as he looks willing to hand-fight with defensive ends, usually landing multiple strong punches, and will consistently finish blocks with a strong arm extension.
Lack of experience on the offensive line is a concern, so putting another strong season on tape will be a boon to his draft stock. Height will always be an issue when trying to get leverage against veteran pro defensive linemen, must continue to add strength throughout his frame to control and anchor.
NFL COMPARISON - Riley Reiff
Johnson was a high school quarterback and a backup at his junior college at that position for one season before moving to tight end, defensive end and then finally right tackle during his first three seasons with the Sooners. He finally got his shot on the left side in 2012 and was as reliable as ever. Scouts saw the potential in Johnson grow throughout the 2011 and 2012 seasons due to his athleticism, strength, and solid technique despite his lack of experience. Expect his name to be mentioned frequently throughout the process. - NFL Network
Would he fit with the Rams?
I think he would. The Rams would have to move current left tackle Rodger Saffold to right tackle, which I would be fine with. The Rams would have two good pass protectors on the outside, protecting their franchise quarterback Sam Bradford. He could be available at 16, but not at 22, so the Rams would have to make a choice. Honestly, it would be hard to not like the pick if the Rams drafted him. He's still raw, but he could come in and start at left tackle on day one. He really has a nice upside also, only two years on the offensive line, and he's developed a lot in a short time.
Be your own judge
Lane Johnson vs Texas A&M 2012 (via JPDraftJedi)
Lane Johnson vs Texas (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)
Lane Johnson vs West Virginia (2012) (via Adrian Ahufinger)