There aren't many NFL draft prospects who have the success story of future first-rounder Lane Johnson. An all-district quarterback in high school, Johnson spent his first year in college as a backup signal caller at Kilgore College. He came to Oklahoma, in 2009, as a tight end and then then switched to defensive end midway through the 2010 season. In 2011 he found his home on the offensive line at the tackle position. He started twelve games at right tackle in `11 and then all thirteen at left tackle in 2013.
He leaves Oklahoma as a Third Team All-American and Second Team All-Conference selection and will undoubtedly be the first Big 12 player taken in the draft where he projected to be a Top 10 pick.
Career moment 10-15-11
Most people will remember that day as the game that put receiver Ryan Broyles atop NCAA's record book. Oklahoma trounced the Kansas Jayhawks 47-17, in Lawrence, that year and Broyles' 57-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter made him the career NCAA receptions leader. He also set a school record that day with 217 receiving yards off thirteen catches. However, none of that may have happened without the services of Lane Johnson who recorded a career high ten knockdown blocks in the game.
His quick footwork allows him to "mirror" the pass rusher which denies them the edge. He is also able to adjust quickly to the inside move of defenders and then rides their momentum out of the play by using his strength and footwork.
This is where being a former quarterback and tight end pays off for him. Johnson's speed allows him to get to second level defenders fairly easily. Once there, he's able to initiate and sustain blocks. His feet keep moving through the initial contact, which allows him to get to an advantageous blocking angle while being engaged.
He's able to use his hands to keep defenders at a distance which helps avoid batted down passes. He's also strong enough to hand-fight with defensive ends. He's often able to get the defender off balance and then finish off with an arm extension that gives him the knockdown.
Because of the shuffling around of positions in college, Johnson only played tackle for two seasons. While he excelled at the position his junior and senior year, he'll need to learn a few "tricks of the trade" in order to combat the caliber of defensive ends he'll face every Sunday in the NFL.
Johnson was able to add 35 pounds to his frame while at Oklahoma but will need to add even more in the NFL. He's always had good balance but adding more weight through building muscle will give him better control and power for the battle in the trenches.
Lane Johnson is a lock as a first-rounder. The Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions are the two most likely suitors for him but don't be surprised if San Diego, Miami or St. Louis tries to make a play for him as well.