For being the fourth-overall pick in the draft, Lane Johnson sure seems to be flying under the radar these days. He’s probably not even the ninth or tenth biggest story at Eagles OTAs, situated somewhere between Evan Mathis urinating on an IRS sign and the punting competition between Donnie Jones and Brad Wing.
Danny Watkins must be having a heck of a time wrapping his head around that. Heck, the 2011 first rounder is still being held under the microscope more than Johnson, and Watkins is considered depth at this point.
Johnson may be getting upstaged in the news by most of his linemates, but his progress is being closely monitored for sure – after all, he is penciled in to be the opening day starter at right tackle. Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland sat down with reporters last week, and discussed how the rookie is adapting during the Q&A transcribed by Daily News columnist Paul Domowitch.
Q: What are your early impressions of your first-round draft pick, Lane Johnson?
A: “From the skill-set standpoint, he’s really good. He’s long. His arms are long. He’s explosive. He’s everything that we thought he would be. Now, we’ve got to get him into some really good habits.
“I enjoy coaching him so much. There are so many things I can bring to the table for him. I can see exactly what he’s doing wrong. Here’s what’s great about Lane. When you tell him something or correct him about something, he’s a blue-collar guy. He’s not offended. He doesn’t give you a look or anything. He just wants to learn and be coached hard.
“After you correct him, he goes out on the field and applies what you’ve taught him. It shows up in the video the next day. It’s apparent that he was listening and applying what you’re teaching.”
That quote may sound ho-hum to some folks, but I think it highlights one of Johnson’s most-frequently overlooked attributes: football IQ.
Johnson has lined up all over the field. He played quarterback, tight end, and defensive end in college before finally shifting to offensive tackle permanently. That might make him a raw prospect for fourth overall, but it also means he understands the game from a variety of perspectives.
He is able to pick up new concepts, and relatively quickly at that it would seem.
Does an offensive lineman have to be smart? Maybe not necessarily, but possessing a first-hand awareness about what the quarterback might be thinking, what the tight end to his right should be doing, and how the defender lined up across from him is trying to attack can’t hurt, either.
Stoutland discussed Johnson some more, but the all-encompassing interview touched on quite possibly the biggest concern on the line in Jason Peters, who is a little bit more than a year removed from twice rupturing his Achilles tendon. From the sound of things, the coaching staff continues to be encouraged by the left tackle’s recovery.
Q: Can Jason Peters come all the way back from his Achilles injury?
A: “Honestly, you wouldn’t know Jason ever had an injury. For a guy his size, the leverage that he gains... he plays so low to the ground. Moves his feet so fast. Out of all the players I’ve ever coached, he’s got the best balance and body control of anybody I’ve ever seen.”
>> Q&A with Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland [Eagletarian]