As the No. 4 overall pick, his rookie contract is signed, and he expects to contribute right away.
“Oh yeah,” Johnson said, when asked if he thought he’d be ready to start from the get-go. “That’s what I got drafted for, to play some football. And I want to go out there and compete.
“I expect to play at a high level from Day One. Going into this season, I want to start and compete every day.”
The last seven months have been a bit of a whirlwind for Johnson. Oklahoma played in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4, and the pre-draft process started that same month with the Senior Bowl. Johnson trained and participated in the Combine in February. Then it was time for team interviews and scheduled visits.
After the Eagles selected him in the first round, Johnson was off to OTAs and mini-camps at the NovaCare Complex.
So while he made sure to stay in shape during the Eagles’ recent break, even spending a couple weeks training with Evan Mathis in Arizona, he also got some time to let his body rest and recover in preparation for the intense weeks and months ahead.
Athletically, there is no question that Johnson is ready to perform at a high level in the NFL. But his chances for immediate success will be tied to his ability to refine the technical aspects of the position. At 23, Johnson’s only played offensive line for two years and faces a steep learning curve before Week 1 against the Redskins.
“He’ll be coached so he’ll get better in terms of technique, because I think he didn’t always play to his athleticism,” said Greg Cosell of NFL Films on the Shutdown Corner podcast. “And there were a number of times in the run game where his feet didn’t go with him so he fell off blocks. But that can be taught. This kid clearly fits what I think Chip Kelly wants to do offensively, which is a zone run game and to play fast.”
Assuming he gets the nod at right tackle with the first team, Johnson will be playing alongside four guys who have proven (to varying degrees) that they can be quality NFL players. The rookie’s performance will go a long way in determining the overall success of the line in 2013.
“We want to get off on the right foot,” Johnson said. “I know all the players, all the linemen are a pretty tight-knit group. Moving forward, we’re going to try to learn the playbook as much as we can and know the offense and going into preseason games, just try to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.”
CASEY, KELCE READY TO GO
Both James Casey and Jason Kelce said they have been cleared to practice fully from the start of camp. Casey had his knee scoped in the spring, and Kelce has been rehabbing from an ACL injury suffered during Week 2 of the 2012 season.