NFL Draft: Lane Johnson Gives the Philadelphia Eagles an Elite Offensive Line

Yueh HoCorrespondent IApril 25, 2013

Jan 26, 2013; Mobile, AL, USA; Senior Bowl south squad offensive lineman Lane Johnson of Oklahoma (69) prior to kickoff of a game against the Senior Bowl north squad at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

While the selection of Lane Johnson by the Philadelphia Eagles may seem like a reach to some fans and analysts, especially with players like Star Lotulelei still available, a pick such as this fills a glaring hole on the Eagles' roster.

Lane Johnson is still a bit raw and lacks extensive experience at tackle, but there is no denying that he is a phenomenal talent. If paired with a good coaching staff, Johnson can become an elite pass protector.

Johnson is a phenomenal athlete. Not only is Johnson agile, but he also bends his knees well, using this to mirror defenders and frustrate pass-rushers. In college, Johnson was known for shutting down opponents for four quarters.

But Johnson's athleticism doesn't just give him upside—it also gives him versatility. A player of his natural football talent can be moved to right tackle if Jason Peters returns at full-strength. And if Peters were to miss any time, the Eagles would have a serviceable backup now, a drastic improvement over the likes of King Dunlap and Demetress Bell.

Johnson is certainly an excellent pick for the long-term future, but he is also an immediate difference-maker for the entire roster. Jason Peters and Jason Kelce are expected to return in 2013, and Johnson will likely be the starter at right tackle.

When healthy, Peters is the finest left tackle in the NFL, and Kelce is an underrated center. Combine them with Evan Mathis, arguably the league's best left guard in 2011, and the left side of the line is as solid as it gets.

But the right side of the line will now be instantly improved. Not only will Johnson most likely improve the play at right tackle, but he will allow Todd Herremans to be moved back to his natural guard position, where he was a borderline Pro-Bowl talent.

And with an improved O-line, quarterback and running back play can also be expected to improve. With Johnson now on the roster, expect big things from the Eagles' offense in 2013.