He’s spent his first two seasons playing guard, but Paris Johnson Jr. is shaping up to be the first Ohio State OT selected in the first round of the NFL draft since 2016. While much might change between now and next April, Johnson possesses a 2023 NFL Draft scouting report brimming with potential. QB C.J. Stroud may have garnered early first-round attention, but his pass protector is primed for the pinnacle of the class too.
Paris Johnson Jr. NFL draft profile
Having played three years at St. Xavier in Cincinnati, Johnson graduated from Princeton High School as a five-star recruit in the 2020 class. Additionally, he was the top OT and ninth-best player in the nation. His multiple high school accolades included the Anthony Munoz Lineman of the Year and All-American Bowl Man of the Year.
Choosing Ohio State over options including Alabama, Georgia, and both Michigan schools, Johnson saw fleeting action as a guard in 2020. Of his 22 snaps, 15 came during the CFB Playoffs, including the national championship defeat to Alabama. Continuing on the offensive interior in 2021, Johnson was the full-time starter at RG for the Buckeyes. Despite battling injury, he played 13 games while earning second-team All-Big Ten honors.
Away from the field, Johnson is an impressive academic and philanthropist. He speaks Chinese and is learning Portuguese. Meanwhile, he set up the “Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation” while still in high school. The foundation helps veterans and disadvantaged children and has raised over $10,000 since its inception.
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: Ohio State
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’6″, 315 pounds
Johnson Jr. scouting report
Despite playing guard during his first two seasons with the Buckeyes, Johnson will transition outside to left tackle for the 2022 college football season. While his early 2023 NFL Draft scouting report is based on his tape on the interior, it isn’t difficult to see how his skill set will translate to the OT position. If anything, he has prototypical offensive tackle traits that make the strengths element of his scouting report extremely exciting.
At 6’6″ and 315 pounds, Johnson has a build far more suitable for the OT position than at guard. Not only does the Ohio State lineman have good size for the tackle position, but he also owns impressive length. According to 247 Sports, his arms measured 35.5″ at the All-American Bowl. While we can’t take that as official, that length certainly checks out on tape. It’s extremely rare to see a defensive lineman get their arms into his chest.
Attached to Johnson’s lengthy levers are a pair of powerful paws. The Ohio State OT flashes violence in his hands that frequently results in his opponent being snapped backward or simply shoved to the ground. While there’s menace and malice, there are also finesse elements to his handwork. The 2023 NFL Draft prospect has shown the ability to redirect his hands to be impactful even when his initial placement isn’t 100% accurate.
In addition to a powerful punch, Johnson showcases grip strength. Once he’s latched on to an opponent, it’s rare to see them be able to disengage. There were multiple examples in the games studied where the Ohio State OT latches, maintains engagement, and drives his opponent into the parking lot. This was apparent against varying shapes and sizes of defensive adversaries. Johnson displays good leg drive in this regard.
One of the most impressive aspects of Johnson’s NFL Draft scouting report is his extremely apparent athleticism. The Ohio State OT explodes out of his stance. He demonstrates quick and nimble footwork for a man of his size. He covers ground quickly with impressive speed. This is perhaps most apparent when tasked with being a pulling guard. Johnson hits his markers with unerring regularity, flying across the line with devastating intent.
Using his athletic prowess and a mauler mentality, Johnson has excelled in the ground game during his time playing guard for Ohio State. He can get out to the second level effortlessly, clearing out lanes for the Buckeyes’ running backs. His ability to take the correct angles while maintaining blocks and redirecting opponents is impressive. There are very few blocks he can’t make, with several disgusting reach blocks witnessed on film.
However, he’s also flashed excellence as a pass protector. Johnson has showcased good lower-body strength, routinely anchoring well and often proving impossible to move. There were very few examples on tape where he was walked back into his quarterback during pass protection reps. Furthermore, he routinely displays football intelligence to pick up twists and stunts and quickly and correctly identifies his man following formation shifts.
Johnson’s area of improvement
At present, Johnson’s scouting report indicates that the Ohio State OT should be one of the frontrunners in the offensive line class. Of course, having not taken a snap at left tackle since high school, there is a distinct element of projection. Moreover, there are some areas for improvement on his NFL Draft scouting report that we’d like to see him amend during the 2022 college football season.
In pass protection, Johnson doesn’t always manage to fully extend his arms and lockout his opponent. As a result, he sometimes allows his opponent to get their hands inside his frame. As he transitions to offensive tackle, this will become more important than has been the case while manning the interior.
Continuing on the theme of hand usage, Johnson needs to ensure consistency with placement and timing. He’s showcased that he can be devastating with his hands. Yet, sometimes the Ohio State OT lands outside of his opponent’s frame. While he has the ability to redirect his hands quickly, being more consistent with his hand placement will allow him to be even more dominant.
Although he flashed power in his punch, grip strength, and leg drive, Johnson could benefit from adding a little more in the way of upper-body strength to round out a more dominant scouting report by the end of the upcoming college football season.
Current draft projection for Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr.
Due to his exclusive usage at guard for Ohio State, a lot of Johnson’s scouting report at OT is projection. However, the projection is enticing, and the upside is exciting. His size, length, footwork, general athleticism, and impressive hand usage point to an excellent offensive tackle prospect. In a class that doesn’t necessarily have an early leader, Johnson has the potential to be the first offensive line prospect to be selected next April.