When the Arizona Cardinals drafted offensive tackle Paris Johnson with the sixth pick in April’s draft, we didn’t know where he would end up playing this season. For a while, it looked as though Johnson would make his living at guard in Year 1 of his career before eventually kicking outside to play tackle.
But as it turned out, the Cardinals planned for Johnson to kick things off at right tackle while the incumbent D.J. Humphries would continue to protect the quarterback’s blind side. We also discovered in May that the Cards would travel to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Commanders in Week 1, a team that boasts one of the best defensive lines in football.
Arizona Cardinals rookie tackle faces a tall task in Week 1
Paris Johnson won’t be facing another former Ohio State alum in Chase Young in his NFL debut as the latter will miss time because of a neck injury. But don’t make the mistake in thinking Washington’s defensive line will be any easier to deal with. They still have Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Montez Sweat, three of the league’s better linemen.
Sweat and Allen are particularly worrisome, having earned PFF grades of 86.4 and 80.1, respectively from 2022, ranking the duo eighth and 11th at their respective positions. With Young out, look for D.J. Humphries to see more of Montez Sweat, but it doesn’t mean the Commanders defense won’t give Johnson a few unique looks that will force him to face some of the NFL’s best in this matchup.
Without Young, the Commanders could roll with James Smith-Williams, but he’s officially listed as Questionable with an oblique injury. Williams scored a poor PFF grade of just 59.8, but he also started 14 games last year and logged 16 quarterback hits. Translation, Williams could threaten to bring a lot of pressure if he’s facing Johnson today.
Overall, we’re getting an early look of where the Arizona Cardinals rookie and (hopefully) eventual franchise left tackle stands. If Johnson enjoys a strong outing, then it could set the tone for a remarkable rookie year.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)