I do about 5 NFL mock drafts a year just for fun. In one of my first mocks of 2013, I had Lane Johnson of the Oklahoma Sooners being selected in the 3rd round. I later saw that I might have been way off, and underestimating his perceived value. Then the NFL combine hit and I realized that it was confirmed. His strong showing there solidified him as the 3rd best left tackle in everyone’s draft boards. All the player rankings have him at 3rd best at the position as well.
I got friends who I bounce my research off of when trying to settle on sports opinions. Two of them, Kyle and Reshad, opened my eyes to some details that I definitely missed about the level of play from Johnson. Kyle showed me a video of all Lane Johnson snaps. He pointed out serious flaws in technique. More specifically, in his footwork. Johnson appears to have no kick slide. He just makes a lateral step and catches the defender in his chest. The video clip I saw showed him doing this repeatedly. The red flag has been risen. Not too long after Reshad, who played on the offensive line for Maryland weighed in on Johnson’s style of play. He pointed out how Johnson “catches” at the point of attack and in the running game, does not take advantage of the opportunities offensive linemen have to dish out a little punishment. Reshad went on to say that he had a poor base in passing situations and would face serious problems against the bull rush in the NFL. Johnson apparently gives up on his kick step too soon and opens up his body. This makes him the potential victim of double moves.
Though these issues with technique may seem coachable, you want to select someone who has already mastered these things naturally. Especially if they are considered a 1st round pick. Many mock drafts have Johnson being selected in the top 10. Lane Johnson only has 11 starts at left tackle in his college career. This fact caused me to give a 3rd and 4th look at what else was available at the position. Could this be a week draft at left tackle? We have Alabama‘s DJ Fluker who is also somewhat flawed and grades out better to be a mauler type right tackle in the NFL. We have Menelik Watson out of Florida State, who is a 2012 transfer out from junior college and played most of his snaps at right tackle. Watson is a great athlete who has very little experience over all. Maybe a team (like the Dolphins) question marks at the position should have addressed it in free agency. There doesn’t seem to be any immediate answers in the draft after Joeckel and Fisher.
Tony Graham is a Miami Dolphin writer for RantSports.com.
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