Rookies in Focus: Lane Johnson
Our offseason rookie breakdown started with the first round edge rushers and now it’s time to take a look at the other side of the line. Offensive tackles came off the board at a furious rate, with the 2013 draft perhaps as unique as any in recent history.
Here’s a look at the first round offensive tackles, with a couple other mid-round starters and even an undrafted free agent mixed in. This is by no means a definitive draft grade on any of these players, just a one-year look at their role and production, and perhaps a look forward to how they might improve.
Round 1, No. 4: Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
Role: 16 starts at RT
The third offensive tackle taken in the first four picks, Johnson was viewed as a bit of a high-upside project coming into the draft. Like many of the other tackles on the list, he made the move to the right side, but unlike his predecessors, Fisher and Joeckel, he appears headed for at least a few more years at the position with left tackle Jason Peters locked up. Like his colleagues, Johnson got off to a slow start, but after posting a -12.7 first-half grade, he finished at +12.9 over his last eight games, plus a +2.0 effort in the Eagles’ Wild Card game.
Pass Block Snaps: 621
Total Pressures: 57
Pass Blocking Efficiency: 92.2
Most of Johnson’s issues came in the passing game where his -7.7 grade ranked third-worst among his fellow rookies. Much like the rest of his game, he got better as the season progressed, as he started with negative grades in seven of his first eight games but finished with only three negatives over his last nine, including the playoff game.
Of Johnson’s 57 pressures, 35% came to the inside. He gave up another 31 to his outside shoulder, second-most amongst the rookie tackles. Coming into the season, there were some questions about Johnson’s strength and his ability to handle the bull rush, but he showed well in that area, surrendering only four pressures.
Johnson beaten to the inside:
Run Block Snaps: 506
Johnson was far and away the most productive run blocker among the rookie offensive tackles and his +6.7 grade ranked 11th among all offensive tackles. Perhaps he was helped by Head Coach Chip Kelly’s spread scheme that saw the entire Eagles offensive line dominate in the running game, as his grade actually ranked last among Philadelphia’s starting five. Regardless, it was an impressive showing for Johnson who showed well whether controlling defensive linemen at the line of scrimmage or sealing defenders at the second level in Kelly’s zone scheme.
Johnson getting to the second level:
It’s always nice to see improvement from rookies and Johnson was certainly a much different second-half player. If he continues to develop in pass protection, he’ll prove to be a worthy pick at No. 4 overall.
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