Scout: Lane Johnson ‘Not Ready For Prime Time’

Not everyone is sold on Eagles first-round pick Lane Johnson.

In an NFL.com piece, Albert Breer writes that some around the league have their doubts about the Oklahoma offensive tackle:

While most evaluators see Johnson as a good system fit for Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly — because Kelly needs linemen who are in shape and can run — one scout working the Big 12 said Johnson is “not ready for prime time,” an opinion that is shared in some corners of the NFL. Proof comes in the form of the two teams drafting in the top dozen who shied away from Johnson after sniffing around the left-tackle market. The San Diego Chargers, for one, simply didn’t see it, considering Johnson too much of a projection to trade up for. The Miami Dolphins, on the other hand, did deal up with Johnson still on the board — and then simply went in another direction.

Of course, Chip Kelly fully admitted after the pick that Johnson is a “raw” prospect. The Eagles were impressed with his skill set and athleticism. Now it will be up to the coaching staff to help Johnson maximize his potential in the NFL.

It should go without saying that different scouts and evaluators are going to have different opinions on prospects. For example, here’s what one executive told Paul Domowitch of the Daily News about Johnson:

“It’s hard to find fault with this pick. We had him as the third guy on our board. He’s a really good athlete. He’s only played the position for a couple of years, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he plays or by his knowledge. We had him in for a visit and he was very impressive. Really smart. They can plug him in at right tackle now, and when (Jason) Peters eventually leaves, he can move over and replace him and they won’t miss a beat.

And finally, Bob McGinn’s pre-draft write-ups in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel are always must-read. A couple scouts had fairly positive things to say about Johnson, but one had his doubts:

“I think he’s a fraud,” a third scout said. “He can’t run block. I don’t think he plays strong. I don’t think he moves guys.”

The other factor here is that there were questions about many of the other prospects taken after Johnson (Ziggy Ansah, Tavon Austin, etc.).

It’s tough to find fault with the process. The Eagles spent months getting their draft board together and rating their top four prospects. The player they landed on was Johnson. We’ll know in a few years whether they were correct in expecting his upside to outweigh his question marks.

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  • Brent E. Sulecki

    Danny pt 2

    • Bdawk20

      Did I miss the start of the season? How is Lane doing?

      • What Would Saracen Do?

        According to the stat sheet, he has yet to give up a sack. It’s not quite receiving total consciousness on his death bed, but Lane does have that going for him. Which is nice.

      • Brent E. Sulecki

        clearly i was kidding. the kid hasnt done a thing yet. i think he will be fine. peters used to be a TE too

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      The issue with Watkins is he can’t grasp the information to synchronize with the Center or Tackle. Watkins gets confused by the pre-snap changes a defense makes. He’s also lost with recognizing stunts and blitzes.

      He would probably be better in a man to man blocking scheme where he could depend on his brute force, similar to Carl Nicks.

      • Brent E. Sulecki

        make or break year for the 29 yr old..

      • Jason N.

        Sounds like that’s what happen when you start playing football late in your career.

        If he get easily confused then it’s clearly he doesn’t have enough experience under him.

        For example in a different position. A guy like Barkley who started as a QB for 8 years in high school and college combined.

        That certainly help his development.

      • Richard Colton

        probably because he speaks Canadian

  • dislikedisqus

    He’d better be good. There were a lot of less athletic people drafted after him who are clearly going to be starters in the NFL. A 4 pick is a lot to waste.

  • DunedinEagle

    Failure was not an option with pick 4. I still say there had to be a defender worth taking. I didn’t do the scouting but you can bet teams like Balt and SF did. We shall see but taking somewhat of a project with your first ever first round pick 4th over all is very risky. If he can’t “move” guys there will be trouble.

    • chloroformdreams

      The kid’s tape is impressive, he could stand to put on some muscle but he manhandles people at the point of attack and recovers extremely well when beaten off the snap.

      • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

        Johnson sticks out on game tape. He absolutely manhandled a couple defensive ends who were taken off the board in the first and second round of the 2013 draft. He’s so dominating Snoops switched Johnson during the games from Left to Right Tackle and back. That’s a unique talent.

        If there is a concern with regard to Lane Johnson, then here is a significant question of the Defensive Linemen drafted in this draft because Lane Johnson when playing these guys clearly dominated his opponents from both the Big 12, and SEC. .

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      Johnson is athletic enough to get off the line, and intelligent enough to remember the shifting responsibilities of Zone Blocking.

      He’s a perfect fit, in my opinion.

      At times you have to be mindful of who is making the judgement on the players. I’ve found that analysis who never played a down of football don’t have the best analysis of a player’s ability.

      Their’s is often all theory and no practice. and make some thing related to football more complicated then they actually are.

    • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

      It’s not like the guy would have fallen out of the first round if we didn’t take him at 4. Guaranteed someone would have moved up to 5 to take him if he made it past us.

      • Jason N.

        Provably don’t have to. Detroit would have taken Lane if we didn’t.

    • planetx1971

      That was the only thing that freaked me out about picking Lane. I want and hope he turns into an awesome player. But I just couldn’t see how we were taking the best player available with the 4th pick when we took the 3rd rated tackle in the draft. Also, pre combine, he was projected as a mid to late 1st rounder. Kinda gives me the “workout warrior ” worries. I thought there had to be a better B.P.A. option at 4.

  • cliff henny

    everyone knows he’s not Orlando Pace coming out of college, and, he doesnt have to be. hopefully(all get back from injuries) have 4 good to excellent vets working along side of him. can rotate help to his side, cause left side is as good as it get in NFL, and has an o-line producing machine for a coach in stoutland. a raw project that’ll have some growing pains, yes, clueless and over-matched from the get-go, no. see a guy who’s in a position to succeed, not fail…he’ll be fine.

    • GEAgle

      I do understand where scouts are coming from, because Lane is extremely Raw still. His footwork needs work, his hand placement needs work…but besides the agility and measurables you need to become an All Pro, as Raw as he is, there are some things that are very important that he already does naturally well…He is a natural “Bender”(according to Cossel), and thats very important because of an NFL defender gets under your pads, its over…Lane also already Anchors really well, and thats also very important…Even tho his footwork needs work, his freak athletic ability allows him to easily recover and stay in front of rushers. for a guy that needs alot of help with footwork, he freakishly and almost Inexplicably became excellent at “Mirroring” rushers by the midway point of this past year….This man, has RARE FREAK athletic ability that will allow him to be a capable starter early on in his career while he continues to learn the position…and once he gets experience, he is going to be a monster!
      ….
      I mean, can we really worry about Lane developing? I wouldnt bet against a kid with that ability, and that kind of love for the game…The man went from playing sexy, glory positions, to Grunt positions, where he disapeared from stat sheet, doing whatever it took so that he could get on the field…How can I really question if he is going to put in the work to reach his potential?

      Cossel also talked about how, if you ever spend time at an NFL training camp, you see how insanely precise the Oline coaches are…Hand placement comes down to the exact location, one inch off is not acceptable…If your footwork is one inch off, its unacceptable to NFL Line coaches..A willing, athletic, hard working, piece of clay is going to be molded into a monster by Stoutland..and he has the athletic FREAKability to contribute from day one, overcoming his technical shortcomings…Cant wait to see the first bubble screen thrown to his side….If Todd Gets hurt at some point this year, Mathis will have to switch side, because as long as a solid veteran plays next to him early on, Lane will be fine…If I ever see Watkins lined up next to Lane, I will go crazy

    • Richard Colton

      No, you’re right. Pace was a mountain. I’d argue that the “greatest show on turf” doesn’t happen without him keeping Warner clean enough to look downfield for Faulk/Bruce/Holt. He was easily the 2nd or 3rd most important guy on that offense. He may not be Pace – but if he becomes a dominant LT – then I’d say we’re headed in the right direction.

      LT? check
      RB? check
      WR/TEs? check

      who’s missing?

      • GEagle

        Orlando pace, Jonathon Ogden, Walter Jones…my fav Lineman ever

  • southy

    No issues whatsoever with taking Lane. Highest upside of any o-lineman in the draft, and he’s being coached by Stoutland, a guy that knows how to turn physical potential into NFL polish.

    I’m willing to bet we wanted Jordan, but he didn’t fall to us. You can’t blame one team for their pick at 4 because the guys at “3 went in another direction.”

    • chloroformdreams

      Sorry but the truth is that Erik Fisher has the highest upside. Don’t get me wrong, Lane has excellent upside and may end up being better, but Fisher looks like he could be truly dominant. Joeckel is no slouch either (had to mention him).

      • GEagle

        Sorry, but Fisher does NOT have the upside that Lane does…Fisher, Today needed to be seriously technically sound to be a better Lineman prospect than Lane, Once Lane catches up to him Technically, he will be a much better player. Fisher can be very good, but he will always struggle against the athletic DE’s…Lane is one of those Rare JP type guys with the ability to grow into someone that can handle any rusher on his own, no matter how fast and athletic…Of course Im just talking in terms of potrential, and projection, but you opened the door by talking about upside…and there is no way, ANYONE would ever look at the 2, and come to the conclusion that Fisher has more of the upside. You can say that Fisher is a safer bet to achieve his potential…but I dont see how an intelligent kid, who played any position he had to to get on the field, doesnt work to achieve his potential?….People are selling Lane short. His upside had to be ALL WORLD to get taken in the top 10…A similarly athletic stud in Kyle Long, didnt come off the board til 16 spots later…and Long certainly has the upside to compete with Joekel and Fisher 3 years from now, but Lane was the much more special than even Long

        • chloroformdreams

          Okay, fair enough. I guess I did base my opinion on the fact that Fisher is a pure mauler who right now (to me) looks most likely to become truly dominant. If Lane does fill out his frame and can more consistently stonewall stronger bull rushers the way Fisher and Joeckel do then it’d be hard to argue with him having the most upside since he’d be more of a force in space and against guys like JPP or Dion (if the dolphins don’t destroy his career).

          • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

            Stonewalling and applying brute force is not, with the Eagles; part of a Tackles’ game. If the Eagles used the brute force method of man on man blocking they could have kept King Dunlap at tackle.

            Guys like Orlando Pace, and Anthony Munoz were relics and HOF Tackles who used Brute Force and excellent balance in their day, but the game has changed from then to now.

            Fitness as demonstrated by Jason Peters is just as much of a Tackles game today as footwork and athleticism. You have defensive linemen 280 lbs who run 4.7 40 yd dashes. Tackles have to move today if not they are beaten around the edge or with a signature inside move.

            Balance,fitness and the ability to move trumps in today’s NFL. .

            The only concern with Fisher is the level of competition he faced. There is no concern with the level of competition Lane Johnson faced with Oklahoma, and Johnson was dominating the competition week in and week out. I agree he’ll have to get stronger, but that’s common and routine for most college players coming into the NFL

            I hate to sound like a homer, but there is a lot to like about each of the premier Tackles in this draft, but in my opinion, the absolute best Tackles in college Football didn’t come out this year, and that’s Jockel’s running mate at Texas A&M, Jake Mathews.

            I hope he’s a sleeper, but it’s doubtful and pure fantasy he will be over looked. I would love for him to wear Eagles green next year.

          • GEagle

            I don’t mean to short change Fisher, because I do expect him to have a very nice career…but if we are talking upside, than only Terron Armstead, and Kyle Long Compared to Lane….Fisher was a good solid safe pick, but in a normal year, he would have been like the 18tn pick in the draft…Joekel is primarily pass blocker, so he would have always been drafted in the top 10…but as Raw as Lane is, I think every year there would be a team that would take a shot on that kind of ALL PRO ceiling early on….It’s all about Charecter with Lane..He is certainly smart enough. if you do your homework, and are confident that he loves to play football. Has the work ethic to become great, and the desire to be a great…Then it’s a great pick…If he is content making it to the NFL and cash checks, then it was a horrible pick…

      • Jason N.

        You haven’t been following the draft much haven’t you?

        Joeckel – higher floor out of the 3 but since he is so dominant in college, some said that his upsides won’t be that much. Play more as a technician than relying on his athleticism.

        Fisher – great atheticism. Good floor and good ceiling. Have some techniques and play well using his atheticism. Doesn’t have excellent atheticism like Johnson nor techniques like Joeckel. But he has enough of both.

        Johnson – freakish atheticism, lower floor out of the 3 tackles but since he is so raw, he has the highest ceiling and his atheticism give it a boost too.
        Could be a great tackle if developed properly.

        So you see. Joeckel is the safe technician tackle. Fisher is in the middle of the two. And Johnson is the freak athlete type.

  • B-West

    Not a shocker at all to find a contrarian opinion out there. Its probably just to keep the off season football discussion going round and round. And if it is an honest assessment, it took two weeks to dig up somebody who didn’t believe in Lane at all. Time will tell.

  • GEAgle

    Funny…I tink Fisher and Joekel are th frauds, and Lane,Long, Brennan Williams will be the studs….
    hahahahah The chargers? You mean the chargers that AGGRESSIVELY went after King Dunlap the moment free agency started, in a market where OT was a strength, and they targeted Queen lol? King Dunlap TODAY is penciled in as there starting LT bwahahahahaha, and they are entiertaining Max Stark lol…After the mess there Oline was, they are continuing to waste what Time Phillp Rivers has left, with King friggin Dunlap? Im sorry, that is the LAST TEAM who’s oppinion on Offensive Tackles, we should be concerned with. The Chargers didnt have any draft picks..they had like 5 of them. They were in NO position to move up to #4….let em Hate, and enjoy King Dunlap, the crown Jewel of their offseason hahahahaha

    • chloroformdreams

      I think King Dunlap was really under-appreciated in Philly. His measurements easily brought our line’s average height up a full half inch. Can’t beat that kind of intimidation on paper. Plus the punished look on his face as he tried to block, oh idk anyone, was excellent comic relief during a tragic season.

      • Richard Colton

        excellent point. you might also have mentioned his name – perfect for an O-lineman. “King” as in “of the wild frontier” and “Dunlap” as in “his belly dun-lapped his belt.” The fact that he couldn’t block anybody is second in my opinion.

        On the other hand – the rest of our line has terrible names. Lane? you afraid of a “Lane?” Sounds like a running back. And “Herremans” sounds like a department store. I say – bring back King and Justice.

        • CJ

          Lane sounds at least as initimidating as Tra. If he’s anywhere near as good, we’ll manage.

          The irony of an exec from the chargers criticizing the pick is astounding though. Probably just sour grapes they couldn’t get him. Someone should remind the guy that that kind of thing works better BEFORE the draft. When you’re best tackle is King Dunlap, I’d trash everyone else’s too out of spite.

          • cliff henny

            sure that’s what it is, all they’re doing is trying to sell a semi-interested fanbase a horrible o-line.

          • CJ

            So you’re saying that starting King Dunlap is not giving a fanbase a horrible o-line?

          • GEagle

            My beef isn’t that they signed king….it’s that they FOCKIn targeted that scrub right out the gate…they didn’t even consider Vollmer, long, none of the better names…as soon as free agency started, they went all in for King Dulap, hahahahahahaha…Fluker I like a lot, but I can’t figure out what he is going to be. he can be an up and down, good tackle like the lazy fanboy in Cincinatti, or he could become an all pro guard….who knows how those idiots are going to decide to use him

          • CJ

            Or were you expecting the GM to come out and say ” I didn’t do a darn thing this offseason to improve the OL. Actually I made it worse, and when Rivers goes on IR, I will be solely responsible”

          • atb124

            I don’t think he was being sarcastic, he was agreeing with you.

          • Richard Colton

            I actually like their first round pick – Fluker. They took a guy who can only play RT way too early. I was hoping he could slide a little and the Eagles could grab him at #35.

        • Warhound

          Herremans could be a dept store, sure; but how about Oberst Herreman, Panzer Leader?

          • Richard Colton

            now you’re talking

      • Docdeath20

        King Dunlap stinks

    • eaglepete

      my firsts thoughts when I read that also, too funny, the Chargers. Im fine with that. Like others have mentioned, far more risk in some of the other picks I think than Lane. Time will tell. Wondering if there is any proof in his tapes that he cant run block?

      • Jason N.

        From what I’ve heard his pass block is worst than his run block. But not by much

  • JofreyRice

    I’m far from a rah rah guy, but I think Johnson will be fine. He’s more experienced at RT than either Joeckel or Fisher, and more athletic. He improved every week in his final season. I’m not a big fan of taking a T *that* early, but I don’t see Johnson busting. Now will he be worth the #4 pick? I dunno, I don’t subscribe to the idea that T’s are worth top 5 picks, anyway. If he doesn’t make multiple pro bowls, I think he’ll be considered a disappointment, but as long as he starts and plays solid football, I can’t see him as a “bust”.

    Truthfully, I would have waited, and taken Terron Armstead, so I could have addressed D early, but I think Johnson will contribute to making the team better.

    • Jack Waggoner

      Derek wrote a post at Igglesblog, the first one he’s written in a couple of months. There’s a lot of good stuff in it, but here’s the bit about Lane Johnson, down after the main part of the post:

      _______________________________________________________________

      Number one: The Eagles needed Lane Johnson and they need a great offensive line. This entire offense seems to be about having enough guys to block all their guys (Chip’s job) and then your guys actually blocking all their guys (their job). The offensive line has to be the best unit on the field if that’s going to work.

      Furthermore, the Eagles last year were absolutely horrendous against the blitz. I don’t have the stats handy (airplane), but there were entire quarters if not games where the offense simply crumbled under all the pressure applied to Vick and Foles.

      Things are not going to change on the defensive side this season. Our opponents can’t sit back and die a death of a thousand cuts, nor can they passively show us eight-man run fronts and watch as Vick goes bombs away over their heads.

      They’re gonna come – a lot – and if our guys can’t stop them, it will be like last year all over again, just with different guys getting crushed in the backfield. Chip can take some pressure off everyone with a quick passing game that gets the ball outside before the rush arrives, but even there, it’s not like we have ideal, tackle-breaking receivers to pull that off.

      Pray for good health for the big dudes.

    • Jason N.

      At least we didn’t take a punter, kicker or center in the top 5.

    • GEagle

      Yeah but Terron has serious lingering back issues.

  • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

    Johnson will be playing in a zone blocking scheme with the Eagles. Johnson won’t have to be a brute but a fitness technician capable of coming off the line and winning the angle on his opponent in combination with either the Guard,Center.or Tight End

    Zone blocking is a running attack strategy, Mudd introduced the scheme the last two years in Phila. Every linemen isn’t fit for the scheme simply because every linemen can’t get on to a combo block and peel off to attack linebackers and second level opposition. The linemen have to be coordinated and capable of working in tandem with other linemen in a synchronized fashion. One slow linemen and a quick footed linemen won’t work well together in a zone blocking scheme.

    Football isn’t rocket science, the object is simply double teams at the linemen at the point of attack After initial contact one of the offensive linemen peel off that combo to attack down field defenders.

    This often leaves creases and running lanes through the middle of a defense for the running back to exploit. When you review the Eagles tape watch how McCoy often delays before taking off thorough a gap created by his blocking.

    Johnson being both athletic and intelligent is expected to be able to process the information as things are changing pre-snap and quick and fast enough to get off a combo block and out into the second level.

    Think Shady following Peters down field around the left end, after Peters combo blocks with Mathis. .

    • GEagle

      holy Hell…I agree with a dutch post..Hell is certainly freezing over

    • Dominik

      “When you review the Eagles tape watch how McCoy often delays before taking off thorough a gap created by his blocking.”

      You can also take a look at the Texans. Sometimes you get the feeling that Foster is taking a coffee break behind his line before he takes off and runs for 10 yards.

  • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

    9 guys say he’ll be fine but you always hear about the 1 guy who think he’ll be a bust. Lots of parody in the scouting community, I trust the Eagles staff and their judgement on this.

  • jabostick

    That this draft lacked sure things, was pretty well-established and agreed upon so not surprising that there’s disagreement. I’m comforted that the non-believers are the Chargers and Dolphins though.

    Unless one of the D-lineman become crazy good or Tavon is a superstar, it’s hard to imagine this pick coming back to haunt us given the other options.

  • travispapa

    I think what people are ignoring is the fact that he will be mainly run blocking 60% of the time. He is not going to be pass blocking 40 snaps a gm on 5 and 7 step drops but maybe 20-25 times a gm on 3 and 5 step drops. By all accounts the kid has a mean/nasty streak. He will be a probowler

  • Jason N.

    Well that one scout sounds like a sore loser..

    Really? The Chargers?

    They’re like the laughing stock on the West Coast while the Jets are here on the East.

  • ben

    Who are these unnamed scouts? Who gives a crap what they think. What EAGLE fans want is a winner, not anonymous opinions from a loser’s gallery of critics. Kelly is shaking the inert corporate minds of the NFL establishment ant these doubters will complain all the way to the Eagles appearance in the playoffs in Kelly’s first year.

  • knighn

    Not Ready For Prime Time? That’s fine: the Eagles only play two prime time games this year.

  • Cyrus Robinson

    I don’t worry about Lane. He’ll learn from Stoutland and Peters, and he’ll practice against savvy veteran Trent Cole, bull rushing Graham, and a bulked up Curry: great tutelage and great competition. I don’t think there will be many surprises for him come the regular season.

  • Docdeath20

    Johnson will be the best tackle in this draft in 2 years take it to the bank.

  • justinhis

    2 teams drafting in the top dozen passed on the guy when he was the #4 pick. One team picked after he was taken and couldnt/wouldnt trade up for him in a deep o-line draft and the other team passes to take a guy who some think is going to be the greatest pass rusher of all time. And people want to say because of this, anonymous people have doubts about the guy. Ive got plenty of “anonymous sources”, theyre hanging with Te’o’s girlfriend.