With the first draft pick of the Chip Kelly era, the Eagles selected Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson with the fourth overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft Thursday night. Following the selection, Kelly said that Johnson had, by far, "the highest ceiling" of any offensive tackle in the draft. At 6-6, 303, Johnson is an impressive physical specimen and projects as an ideal fit for Kelly's offense.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Johnson finished second among all offensive line prospects in the 40-yard dash (4.72 seconds), second in the vertical jump and first among all offensive linemen in the broad jump. Originally a quarterback at Kilgore Junior College, Johnson joined Oklahoma as a tight end before earning the starting right tackle job in 2011. He spent 2012 as the starting left tackle and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors.
Here's the scouting report on Johnson, courtesy of DraftInsider.net's Tony Pauline.
Positive: Athletically gifted prospect who's shown tremendous improvement the past two seasons. Plays with quickness, displays terrific footwork, and outstanding lateral blocking range. Sets with a wide base, bends his knees, and agile. Easily adjusts to defenders picking up blitzes. Fluid getting to the second level and shows skill blocking in motion. Mechanically sound in all areas, playing with leverage and controlling opponents with his hands. Remains disciplined and shows good mental awareness on the field.
Negative: Must improve his blocking balance. Bends at the waist or overextends. Solid run blocker, yet needs to improve his playing strength.
Analysis: Johnson has shown dramatic improvement the past two seasons since finding a home on the offensive line. He's an outstanding athlete with terrific upside potential, and Johnson will only improve as he gets stronger and receives more experience at the tackle position.
Bob Stoops, Johnson's head coach at Oklahoma, said the following about the Eagles' first-round pick:
"Everybody at the University of Oklahoma is proud of Lane and our other players who have earned an opportunity to compete in the NFL. It doesn't surprise anyone on our staff that Lane was a high first-round selection. Lane worked relentlessly from the moment he stepped on campus and took advantage of every avenue to improve during his time with us.
"While it took a while to find the right position for him to maximize his athletic potential, I have no doubt that he has a huge upside and will only get better with more experience playing tackle. Coach Kittle and Coach Patton did a tremendous job of quickly acclimating him to compete at a high level, while Coach Schmidt and our strength staff did an outstanding job of accelerating his physical development. Lane is a special individual and we'll anxiously follow his progress this fall along with our many other Sooners in the NFL.
"Lane, when we recruited him and signed him, we did so just on what a big athlete he was, not having an idea where he'd end up growing, and it's kind of like the whole journey. He was starving himself to stay at 270 to play d-end. I asked Coach Schmidt how long it would take him to get to 300 pounds, and he said about a week and a cheeseburger. It didn't take them long. Sometimes with these big, long guys that are really athletic, you don't know where they're going to stop growing. Everybody here is excited for Lane.
"He's worked hard, too. He's always been one of our best workers in the weight room. Sprints, running, I knew he'd run well. That didn't surprise any of us. He's worked hard with his body, too, to put himself in this position…We were always trying to find the best spot for Lane. He went from tight end to d-end to o-line, so we knew even before that [when Jarvis Jones was injured two springs ago] it was a possibility, and again, the reason we always were looking was because we appreciated how hard he worked, and he wanted to get him on the field. Fortunately, we think we found the right spot here the past couple of years…He did a great job, and Coach Kittle and Coach Patton working with him did a great job developing him. Just the more he plays and the more he matures, he's just going to get better and better."
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