MOORE — For two years, Oklahoma’s coaching staff and players marveled at Lane Johnson’s athletic ability. They told tales of a large man who could move in ways and at speeds that just didn’t seem physically possible.
Well, after four months of analysis, the NFL has agreed. The offensive tackle is going to be the first Sooner selected when the 2013 NFL Draft begins Thursday night in New York. Johnson will not have to wait long to hear his named called.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has Johnson as the 10th best player available. McShay also believes Johnson might have the highest ceiling of any player in the draft.
“This guy is an unbelievable athlete,” McShay said. “If he develops into the player that he’s trending towards, Johnson’s got a chance to be the best of the group. He’s got a chance to be one of the top tackles in the NFL.”
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr., agrees.
“Lane Johnson is solidly one of the top 11 players in the draft. I think he goes in the top seven right now,” he said.
It’s an incredible jump from where Johnson was four years ago when OU recruited the former high school quarterback to play tight end. It’s stunning from three years ago when he was making the switch to defensive end.
That’s the thing about Johnson that has the NFL scouts so intrigued. Throughout his football career, he’s outgrown positions without losing his athletic ability.
OU has sent several offensive linemen to the NFL who were recruited to play other positions. Jammal Brown won the Outland Award in 2004 and was first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in the 2005. He was originally recruited as a defensive lineman.
Davin Joseph was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first pick in 2006. OU projected him as a defensive linemen, too.