The Detroit Lions find themselves in need of an offensive tackle for the start of the 2013 NFL season. This almost desperation comes with the retirement of longtime left tackle Jeff Backus and the departure of free agent Gosder Cherilus.
Due to a 4-12 season in 2012, the Lions find themselves in a strong position in the 2013 NFL Draft with the number five pick overall. Any other draft would allow the Lions to take a premiere offensive tackle at this position. The problem is that the two best offensive tackles might be off the board in 2013 before the Lions draft. Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher could both be unavailable to the Lions on Thursday night.
If the Lions are adamant about taking an offensive tackle with the fifth overall pick, they might settle for Oklahoma standout Lane Johnson. This is nothing against Johnson and his enormous potential. However, drafting Johnson at fifth overall won’t solve the Lions problems at left tackle.
Johnson only played one year of left tackle at Oklahoma. Prior to this switch, Johnson played right tackle, defensive end, and tight end in college. What’s even more surprising is Johnson was a high school quarterback. Johnson was an honorable mention All State quarterback in Texas before attending Oklahoma. Recruited as a tight end prospect, Oklahoma continued to develop Johnson into a lineman. In a move similar to Joe Staley of the San Francisco 49ers, Staley went from tight end to offensive tackle.
The Lions could draft Johnson because of his athleticism. At the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, Johnson wowed scouts with his speed and quickness. Johnson’s 4.72 40 yard dash was the second fastest by an offensive lineman. Johnson was the best performer in the three cone drill and the 20 yard shuttle.
In a different draft, I would be okay with this pick by the Lions and think Johnson could be a great NFL player someday. However, with pressing needs at offensive tackle, defensive end, and secondary, the Lions need to make sure they don’t reach too much with this first round pick.