Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. was born to be the NFL’s next great offensive tackle
Ohio State University has a reputation as one of college football’s premier football factories. Not only do they have an elite recruiting machine which is able to draw top prospects to their program, but they have great coaches. So it’s little wonder that OSU left tackle Paris Johnson Jr. is one of the highest-regarded tackle prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.
There are 64 starting offensive tackle jobs in the NFL, but there’s also a pretty good argument that there aren’t 64 starting offensive tackles in the NFL. Because of that, teams are constantly on the lookout for players who can lock down the tackle positions for the foreseeable future. Longtime starting offensive tackles are worth their (considerable) weight in gold for teams, and that’s reflected in their free agent market. It’s also reflected in their draft stock in relation to the other positions on the offensive line.
In 2022, Johnson solidified his stock by being named a consensus All-American and first-team All-Big Ten. Let’s take a look at what makes Johnson one of the very best tackle prospects.
What does Paris Johnson Jr. do well?
Paris Johnson’s upside fairly leaps off of the screen when watching his tape.
Johnson looks as though he was ordered out of a catalog at 6’6, 313 pounds, and with 36-inch arms. But in addition to having prototypical size and length for an offensive tackle, he has excellent athleticism and movement skills. He is able to mirror and match athletic pass rushers out on the edge, or redirect back inside to seal the B-gap if necessary.
Johnson has a very flexible lower body, allowing him to compensate for his height and maintain good leverage. He’s a natural knee bender who’s able to drop his hips and keep his pads down without lunging at defenders. His leverage also helps to maximize his impressive playing strength, as well. Johnson is able to drive defenders off the ball, or torque and dig them out of gaps along the line of scrimmage.
Size, length, athleticism, strength, competitive toughness, and run blocking are all strengths.
What are the weaknesses of Paris Johnson Jr.
For all of Johnson’s athletic upside, he has weaknesses that will hold him back, at least initially. Johnson struggles to consistently play with good technique. He has long arms, but doesn’t consistently deliver a good punch to defenders to disrupt their momentum and establish his block. Instead, his hands are often late, giving up his chest plate, allowing defenders to gain control of him, and compromising his impressive playing strength. While he has a length advantage over almost any defender he’ll see, his late hands cancel out that advantage.
His hands also frequently land outside of defenders’ framework and his hands are forced to defenders’ shoulders, which can draw penalties at the NFL level.
Johnson only has two starting seasons under his belt and only one of those was at left tackle (with the other was at left guard). A good offensive line coach will work with Johnson to fix his technique issues and improve his hand usage. Doing so will fully unlock his upside and make him a good starter at either tackle spot.
Paris Johnson Jr. highlights
What are people saying about Paris Johnson Jr.?
Paris Johnson’s upside is tantalizing to say the least. His blend of size, athleticism, and experience playing at the highest level will get him drafted early in the first round. Here’s what Lance Zierlein of NFL.com thinks of him,
“Long, athletic tackle in need of additional technique work but possessing the traits to become a long-time starter on the left side. Johnson is still filling out his frame and he should get stronger. He’s much better as a move blocker than man blocker but he can bridge that gap with more coaching. He’s loose and quick in pass protection but will need to add core strength and get better with inside hands to prevent edge defenders from bypassing his anchor. Johnson’s athletic tools and position versatility are advantageous but the going could be a little bumpy early on before he settles in.”
Paris Johnson Jr. might not be the clear-cut top offensive tackle in the draft right now. There are several tackles in contention to be the first one taken at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft. However, Johnson has the upside to be the best to come out of a very strong tackle class. Rocky rookie seasons aren’t uncommon for offensive tackles, and PJohnson will likely be no different. But his potential is sky-high as long as he gets developed properly.