By JOHN SHINN
When Lane Johnson played his last college football game in January, he wasn’t sure where his NFL stock was. Thursday night while sitting at Radio City Music Hall in New York for the 2013 NFL Draft, he had a much better idea.
Three months of analysis sent the former Oklahoma offensive tackle’s stock skyrocketing. Johnson knew it wasn’t a matter of if, but when he would be taken in the first round.
“Coming down to a few weeks before draft day, I had a feeling it was either gonna be Philadelphia, San Diego, maybe Arizona, maybe Detroit, and possibly Miami,” Johnson said. “Then, after Miami traded, I knew that Philly was probably gonna take me. That’s where it ended up.”
The Eagles selected the former Oklahoma offensive tackle with the No. 4 overall pick. With the selection, Johnson became OU’s 43rd first-round pick and fourth offensive lineman taken in the first round since 2005.
However, Johnson might be the least likely of the bunch. The former junior college quarterback, who was recruited to OU to play tight end, blasted up draft boards with a dazzling display of workouts in the three months leading up to the draft.
Eagles coach Chip Kelley knew all about Johnson before he even took the job in January. Word about Johnson’s athletic ability spread across college football last season. Kelley heard them at Oregon.
“When you hear about a guy who’s excelling in the Big 12 at offensive tackle that was a former quarterback two years earlier, that kind of catches everybody’s attention,” he said.
Kelley said he spoke to OU coach Bob Stoops several times about Johnson after taking the Eagles job. It helped confirm what he was seen on tape and in workouts.
“I know Bob real well and I know what he thinks of him, and how much they thought he was a special player. It was just, it took them a couple years to kinda figure out exactly where he was gonna fit,” Kelley said. “I think that’s again, that’s a positive for us, that he doesn’t have that many years of experience, because I think his upside is so huge. It’s not one of those deal where, what you see is what you get, as I really think he has a very, very big ceiling.”
Johnson is the 13th OU player to be selected in the first round since Stoops’ tenure began in 1999.
“Everybody at the University of Oklahoma is proud of Lane and our other players who have earned an opportunity to compete in the NFL,” Stoops said in a statement Thursday night. “It doesn’t surprise anyone on our staff that Lane was a high first-round selection. Lane worked relentlessly from the moment he stepped on campus and took advantage of every avenue to improve during his time with us.”
Johnson did. He only started for two seasons at OU. He was the starting right tackle in 2011 and moved to the left side last season.
One of the reasons he seems like a great fit with the Eagles is because of Johnson’s experience in the up-tempo offense Kelley is installing in Philadelphia.
“I think they like athletic guys that can move. I don’t know exactly what type of offense they’re gonna do,” Johnson said. “But I know at Oregon, they ran a very fast-paced offense that was very similar to Oklahoma, and I think I fit with what they need.”