Offensive tackle isn’t the sexiest draft pick a team can make, but that doesn’t ever mean it’s a bad one. Thanks to fantasy football and the Madden video game franchise, fans of the NFL want a faster, flashier game when they view it every Sunday. In theory, faster and flashier implies dashing running backs, quick quarterbacks and high flying receivers.
So naturally, when your team is on the clock you’d love it if they called out a name that makes your heart race.
But offensive tackles are often lumped together over in the corner of unwanted NFL players. But drafting flashy players and ignoring offensive lineman is like building a billion beach front mansion with toothpicks as the foundation. Teams that want to sell tickets draft the flashiest player (unless they’re solid upfront), but teams that want to win draft for need and not pleasure.
Lane Johnson is an offensive tackle out of Oklahoma who is seeing his draft value skyrocket thanks to a great week at the Senior Bowl. Before this week, Johnson was in and out of mock drafts, usually near the bottom five teams in the first round. But Johnson has turned in an impressive performance at practices and drills this week, and in combination with the loss of tackles Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews, Johnson just got a lot more valuable.
Besides Johnson, Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher is largely regarded as the second best tackle in the draft. Texas A&M stud Luke Joeckel is without a doubt one of the best tackles in the country — and that’s including the NFL– so it’s a race for second place between Johnson and Fisher. National Football Post writer Matt Bowen reported that both men are indeed looking impressive and scouts are taking notice.
“Both Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson displayed solid footwork, technique, power and could be the next two tackles to come off the board this April after Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel,” Bowen said. “They weren’t perfect on every rep, but you could see enough in 1-on-1 and team drills to know that these two will make some money this year.”
Johnson is currently ranked the 29th best player according to Scout’s Inc. and while he doesn’t show up in Mel Kiper Jr.’s first mock draft, Todd McShay’s outdated mock has the New York Jets selecting Jake Matthews, which means as many as three teams could be looking to go tackle in the draft.
The Jets are a possibility, as are the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers. Assuming the Chiefs take Joeckel first overall, the Philadelphia Eagles could snatch up Fisher, leaving Johnson as the best tackle available.
If he slips out of the first round, Johnson isn’t expected to last long on the second day. He’s got competition from D.J. Fluker from Alabama and Dallas Thomas from Tennessee, but if Johnson continues to impress scouts, he could be a name we weren’t hearing a lot about a month ago but gets called fairly early in the draft.