Eagles Wake-Up Call: Revisiting the Johnson Pick

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

Going into last offseason, the Eagles knew they liked Lane Johnson.

But they didn’t know just how much they liked him until they saw him in action at the Senior Bowl and the scouting combine. Like every other NFL GM, Howie Roseman stresses the college tape first and foremost when talking about prospects. But gathering information in Mobile, Ala. and Indianapolis is still an important part of the process.


"In January, we’re in pencil," Roseman said. "Pen doesn’t come out until a couple weeks before the draft. We want to be open to the process. We want to make sure we’re able to be open-minded at every stage of it. That doesn’t mean we’re gonna have someone who’s gonna go from the fourth round to the second round. That’s not gonna happen, just for where we are because the game tape’s gonna be the most important thing. But when a guy’s in the first round and you see that he’s got traits, sometimes those aren’t confirmed until you get to the combine."

Something as simple as a prospect's height, weight and arm length aren't confirmed until the offseason events. Measurements are listed by college teams, but those are often exaggerated.

As for Johnson, he lit it up during the pre-draft process, testing off the charts in pretty much every category.

"Lane’s one of those guys, when he moves his feet, you just kind of go, ‘Wow,’ " Roseman said. "He’s got rare movement skills for a 300-pounder, and then he’s got length and he’s got a work ethic."

Johnson started all 16 games as a rookie and only missed one snap all season. He was far from perfect, enduring growing pains throughout his first season. But overall, Johnson showed improvement from September to January and displayed the promise the Eagles were expecting when they took him with the No. 4 overall pick.

With only two teams left standing, a couple draft review articles have popped up. Don Banks of SI.com had the Eagles taking offensive tackle D.J. Fluker over Johnson in his re-draft:

There was nothing shabby about the Eagles' original pick of Lane Johnson, but Fluker looked even better at right tackle for the Chargers. Though he struggled in a four-game starting stint at left tackle, Fluker proved to be athletic in his pass-blocking and powerful in run-blocking, logging more than 1,000 snaps for a playoff-qualifying San Diego team that was fortunate to see him fall all the way to No. 11.

Meanwhile, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. gives the Eagles a B+ in his draft review:

I thought they did a nice job, particularly on the value side, and I gave them one of the better grades in the draft. After a season, I think it holds up pretty well. Johnson struggled early, but we expected that from a guy who'd been playing QB in junior college a couple of years earlier. And Johnson was pretty darn good at right tackle for the last 10 or so games. He was as good as any other rookie at tackle. Ertz saw more of the ball late in the season and looks like a long-term starter; same story with third-rounder Logan, who can be a disruptive player on the inside. Barkley didn't do anything, but he was a fourth-round pick, so it's not as if the onus was on Philly to make that pick work. Wolff offered decent depth. The grade stays high as a pretty good team added key help.

For what it's worth, Roseman feels pretty good about where Johnson is after Year 1. The pick was not just about immediate returns, but how Johnson projects down the road.

"Sure," Roseman said when asked if Johnson could play left tackle down the road. "He’s done it at a high level in college football and he’s certainly got the movement skills and the size and the length."

WHAT YOU MISSED

Weekend reading: Some love for Nick Foles and Senior Bowl studs.

Wrapping up the Senior Bowl with three defensive prospects Eagles fans should know.

Three Eagles leftovers, including one QB prospect being linked to the Birds.

More on Johnson's development, plus one vote for Andy Reid over Chip Kelly.

Once again, safety is a need position for the Eagles. Some options in this year's draft.

Could Brian Orakpo be an option for the Eagles? T-Mac takes a look.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Mike Sielski of The Inquirer tells the story of new Browns coach Mike Pettine and his father:

He retires from West after the 1999 season and joins your staff at North Penn in 2001, but both of you possess fierce tempers, and you often interpret his advice as a sign of distrust. During one game, you look up at him in the coaches' booth and mutter something unrepeatable and slam your headset to the ground, and even he can see it's time for you to move on to something bigger and better and all your own.

Still, he never wanted to leave the high school level, certainly never dreamed of coaching in the pros, and now you're making that jump, and he's worried: What if it doesn't work out? You know how fathers are.

Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com takes aim at Heath Evans of the NFL Network:

Blaming your editors for horrible work is garbage, especially when you're on video basically saying the same exact things you said in your article.

Heath Evans, just stand there in your wrongness and be wrong and get used to it.

COMING UP

We'll have some stuff on the Eagles' salary cap situation, plus the start of our offseason outlook series.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

  • GW.Fisher

    From CSN Philly: “Foles, 24, was named Offensive MVP after fashioning a 130.8 passer rating. He was the only quarterback of six in the game to not throw an interception.”

    Just another day at the office. Too bad he’s too slow to play for Chip Kelly…

    • G_WallyHunter

      Ya great game for Foles, he may be able to protect the ball really well and make great decisions, but he just isn’t mobile enough to play in Chip’s system. Don’t people get it?

    • GEAGLE

      Wasn’t Chip Kelly’s “system” responsible for nicks success? Last night it didn’t look like he was running a Chip Kelly offense

      Kid keeps stacking accolades

      • cliff henny

        nawh, he was playing against the scrub backups, like usual. wait till he finally goes against real competition.

  • G_WallyHunter

    Except… On his radio spot with Mike and Ike, Evans said, “Let me go on record
    with this… That was written for the Cleveland Browns, and our editors
    at the NFL Network just flipped the name of the team once he was the
    surprise hire of Philly, and posted that without my liking. When you
    look at the talent pool in Cleveland, and you look at the talent pool in
    Philly, you’re thinking ‘this would be disastrous.’ When you look at
    the talent pool in Philly, that’s a different story… I don’t want to
    throw anyone under the bus at NFL Network, but that’s how that whole
    thing went down.”
    HAHA good one Heath..

    Damn, Kempski’s article is a great read, it’s about time those “journalists” over at NFL Network get called out for some of their ridiculously stupid arguments and weak analysis.

    • Maggie

      Also, after the Pro Bowl and there was someone talking up Foles’ great year and bright future, Evans was absolutely silent. I purposely watched NFL Network for a bit just to see what he would say.

  • Richard Colton

    I like Don Banks, but the DJ Fluker over Lane Johnson pick is a head scratcher. Sure DJ had a great year, but does anyone think that one or two years down the road, he’ll be better than Lane? Inconceivable!

    • GEAGLE

      Dude should be fired on the spot…doubt a kid with sweating problems is suited for our offense. Thanks for the worthless analysis….clowns

    • cliff henny

      how about after 3 plays in 1 minute. Fluker would still be at the 50, while other ten guys lining up at the 35. scheme counts

      • Richard Colton

        get the man a smoothie

        • cliff henny

          and a treadmill. Hals have his hands full with Fluker.

    • Giorgos Kassakos

      It seems that Banks just compared how Johnson and Fluker did in 2013. It’s true DJ Fluker had a very good season, but the guy wouldn’t be a fit in Philly’s o-line. Plus, I don’t think he will ever get to be a left tackle – just a very good RT.

      • Richard Colton

        I thought that too, except that he still has Eric Fisher (who had a terrible year) going in round one.

        • Joe L

          Fisher wasn’t terrible. He struggled early but played well down the stretch.

          • Richard Colton

            yeah. thought he was OK in the last few weeks. but that’s the point – if you have a redraft based solely on the 2013 season, what’s Fisher doing there at all?

  • cliff henny

    think we’re just going to have to get used to the disrespect Foles gets. know i’ve done it to other city guys that are great, but just dont have physical traits of other outstanding players. one that comes to mind is Paul Pierce and his old man game. watching him drop 25 hurt for multiple reasons, looking at you Larry Hughes. when did Brees get flipped from too short mediocre arm to all-world respect? was before super bowl but after time in SD. NO’s only had to outbid a bad Miami team if i remember correctly. this point, let everyone crap all over Foles, seems like a pretty firey guy is hidden underneath that team first boring press quotes napolean dynamite exterior.

  • MindCrime

    No news on B24/7 about Nick Foles Pro Bowl MVP? What in the Sam Hill is going on?!

  • GEAGLE

    Hey DOPE(Don banks)…we have Jeff Stoutland on our staff, if you weren’t such a blowhard you would know we have DJ Flukers college coach on our staff…if Lane wasn’t going to be 3 times the OT that Fluker will be, then we would have drafted Fluker….Incompetant fool. Let’s draft a big fat OT with a sweating and dehydration problem to play in the fastest tempo offense…genius! Thanks for consistently providing worthless analysis

  • JofreyRice

    I wonder how much Dee Ford moved up the ranks? Did he go from a 3rd rounder to a 2nd? It’s hard to see them taking a shot on Ford in the first. Even if he’s everything he was at the Senior Bowl, he’s short and somewhat short-armed. The prototype guys go in the first. Now Eric Ebron, Mike Evans or Allen Robinson in the first, and Dee Ford in the second? Yes, please.

    • Richard Colton

      You think there’s a chance they go TE in round one? I’m not sure there’s that much separation between Ebron and Jace Amaro. Now an Evans, Dee Ford draft would have me doing cartwheels.

      • JofreyRice

        I know it sounds a little odd, but really, how much daylight is there between Eric Ebron and Mike Evans, in terms of how they play? Amaro & Ebron are really–your favorite word, wait for it–pass catching “weapons”. Amaro has some potential as an inline blocker, but I think both of these guys are more like supersized WR’s, which is what Evans is.

        If you’re drafting them in round 1, you’re planning on using them like Jermichael Finley, Jimmy Graham, or Jared Cook, split out from the formation, and bodying up smaller corners. I think Ebron, particularly, is going to be able to not only body up most corners, but also run by a good portion of them.

        • Richard Colton

          So then the only real difference is that when we decide to franchise Ebron, his price tag will be cheaper.

    • GEAGLE

      20-40 range for sure