Lane Johnson Makes a Lot of Sense for the Philadelphia Eagles

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistApril 25, 2013

Apr 25, 2013; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell introduces offensive tackle Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) as the fourth overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the most talented offensive lines in the NFL. I know it doesn't feel that way, but it's true. 

The problem is that, last year, bookend tackles Jason Peters and Todd Herremans were hurt, while 2011 first-round pick Danny Watkins continued to look like a bust at right guard. 

In one moment Thursday night, the Eagles took a good line and made it great, replacing Watkins and securing a potential star tackle of the future by drafting Oklahoma's Lane Johnson

You could make the argument that this was a panic move, even a reach. The draft's top two tackles had already gone off the board and Dion Jordan was picked right before Philly was on the clock. That might have put the Eagles in a tough spot, but nobody was forcing them to take the raw but freakishly athletic Johnson. 

Considering how badly teams like Detroit and Arizona needed tackles, this had to be a tradable pick. But obviously the Eagles concluded that Johnson was worth it, and we don't have any reason not to trust this revamped front office right now. 

Johnson gives them the ability to move Todd Herremans back inside immediately. He's played extensively at both left and right tackle, meaning he'll be able to step in for Herremans, who should move back to guard to replace Watkins. If those three can stay healthy and Evan Mathis can continue to perform like a Pro Bowler, the line won't be a problem in the City of Brotherly Love in 2013. 

Of course, it's far too early to draw definitive conclusions about this pick. We don't have hindsight on our side, so that'd be foolish. But Johnson has a huge ceiling and he can improve this team right away. Star Lotulelei might have felt like an even better fit, but he and Sharrif Floyd fell. Without knowing if a trade could have been made here, this pick should satisfy Eagles fans who have seen their line struggle in recent years. 

Johnson appears to be an ideal fit for a Kelly offense, and he likely wasn't going to slide like Floyd and Lotulelei. Things could change, but this certainly looks like a quality, sensible pick.