Zion Johnson, Boston College OG | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Boston College has had a rich history of producing offensive line talent for the NFL. The program is set to continue that tradition in the 2022 NFL Draft, with guard Zion Johnson expected to lead the way. As we discover in his scouting report, Johnson hasn’t had the most orthodox path to the draft, but the super-senior has all the tools to be a successful offensive lineman on Sundays. 

Zion Johnson NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Guard
  • School: Boston College
  • Current Year: Super Senior
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 316 pounds 

Zion Johnson Scouting Report

The Boston College guard is already earning recognition as one of the best interior offensive linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft class. So, what does Johnson’s scouting report tell us about what he does so well?

Firstly, Johnson exhibits exceptional play strength. He routinely wins the battle at the line of scrimmage, often overwhelming his opponent. There are plenty of examples of him overpowering the defensive linemen he is engaged with, finishing them into the dirt. Also, his strength is evidenced by the very few examples of him ceding ground and being pushed back to the quarterback. Johnson possesses a solid anchor while being forceful on the attack. 

With two years of experience in a triple-option offense and one in Steve Addazio’s power run scheme, it should come as no surprise that Johnson does his best work in the run game. The Boston College guard can play both gap and zone schemes, presenting a valuable level of versatility.

Again, his strength helps him excel here, but he also shows a good understanding of leverage while displaying impressive hand placement. Johnson’s athletic ability helps ensure success in the run game. He has been used as a pulling guard and owns the speed to get out to the second level.

Although his experience and skill set are more suited to run blocking, that’s not to say that the Boston College product isn’t adept as a pass protector. Johnson uses his athleticism to be quick off the snap and fluid in getting into his pass set. His impressive hand placement referenced above is apparent in pass protection with routinely excellent placement and timing of his hands. 

Areas for improvement

Despite receiving third-team All-ACC honors at tackle last fall, increasing his value as a versatile piece, Johnson lacks the physical profile to play tackle in the NFL. At 6’3″, he is a little on the short side by traditional requisite size standards. 

Aside from that, the main issues with Johnson as an NFL Draft prospect relate to the football intelligence element of the game. He could improve his ability to read and react to stunts and twists. Furthermore, Johnson needs to be more aware of angles at the second level in terms of springing the ball carrier for additional yardage.  

Johnson’s Player Profile

As mentioned in the introduction, Johnson’s journey to the NFL Draft hasn’t been straightforward. From Bowie, Maryland, via Davidson to his current home on Chestnut Hill, the 6’3″ offensive guard has had to overcome hurdles every step along the way. 

The first of those footballing obstacles came while at Riverdale Baptist High School. Despite being an accomplished athlete on the football field and the golf course, Johnson received little to no national recognition. He’d been ascending within his team, earning the Most Improved Award in his junior high school season before accepting the Coaches Award in 2016. Still, no rewards were forthcoming on the recruiting trail.

Having been unranked by the major recruiting sites, Johnson received no FBS offers. Furthermore, he only received one FCS offer from Davidson College of the Pioneer Football League. With no other option to play college football, Johnson headed to North Carolina.

Within two years, the Wildcats’ offensive guard went from unranked and unknown to dominating at the FCS level. Johnson made eight starts while playing 11 games as a freshman in Davidson’s triple-option offense. The following season he made 11 starts as the Wildcats led the FCS with 428.5 rushing yards per game. His performances earned him a spot on the first-team PFL All-Conference roster. Additionally, Johnson received a Hero Sport All-Sophomore honorable mention. 

Johnson’s career at Boston College

With two years of FCS experience under his belt, Johnson opted to enter the transfer portal at the end of the 2018 season. Unlike his high school recruiting experience, the dominating offensive lineman received significant attention the FBS level, including offers from Power Five programs. When Boston College came knocking, it was too good of an opportunity to miss.

“Coming out of high school, I didn’t have any opportunities to go to a top notch program like this,” Johnson told ESPN. “When Boston College hit me up, it was a no brainer.”

Expectations of an immediate impact were tempered, with Johnson having to appeal for exemption from the NCAA’s eligibility regulations. The Eagles were prepared to wait a year before having their new guard hit the field. However, with a waiver granted, Johnson made 13 appearances with seven starts during his junior campaign.

The Boston College guard quickly asserted himself as one of the best in the conference

Johnson made his first start for the Eagles against NC State, opening up rushing lanes to the tune of an astonishing 429 yards. His first start brought his first award as he took home ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors. Johnson received the award again following a 26-19 win over Pitt. Just three years after being unwanted out of Riverdale Baptist, the Boston College guard received second-team All-ACC recognition. 

Having settled into his role at left guard, the 2020 season saw more upheaval for Johnson. With changes to the coaching staff and scheme, he was pushed out to the left tackle spot. Despite never playing the position in his career, Johnson missed just two snaps all season. Moreover, he earned third-team All-ACC recognition for his play while impressing sufficiently to earn an invite to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. 

Although he had the opportunity to elevate his stock at the nation’s premier All-Star game, Johnson opted to turn his back on the NFL Draft and return for his super-senior season. He’ll return to left guard for Boston College this fall, solidifying his status as one of the best interior offensive linemen in the 2022 class. 

 

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter @ojhodgkinson.

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