Paris Johnson Jr.: The essential building block for Arizona Cardinals offensive line

Before the 2023 NFL Draft the Arizona Cardinals were projected to select linebacker Will Anderson from the University of Alabama.
2023 NFL Draft - Round 1
2023 NFL Draft - Round 1 / David Eulitt/GettyImages

While the selection of Anderson would have given defensive coordinator Nick Rallis a young and versatile piece on the defense, the selection of Paris Johnson Jr. just made sense for the Arizona Cardinals. Also with the sudden retirement of JJ Watt and with Zach Allen's free agent departure, many analysts figured that new general manager Monti Ossenfort would go heavy on defense.

But Ossenfort surprised everyone when he traded the pick to the Houston Texans and ended up moving down to the sixth overall selection. Ossenfort got his man as he selected the Cardinals likely left tackle of the future in Johnson Jr. from Ohio State University. Johnson was the first offensive lineman off the board and the last time the Cardinals selected an offensive lineman in the first round was in 2015.

The selection of Johnson Jr. was a wise one considering that the organization just gave Kyler Murray the keys to the franchise so they were smart to get some insurance for their investment and it all begins in the trenches with the offensive line. Johnson Jr. possesses great pass protection and mobility for a player of his stature and with his ability to lock up and slow down edge rushers.

He also has great footwork and is fluid in the hips but he must improve his hand placement and get a bit stronger while also increasing his level of physicality and finishing through the whistle. The Cardinals front office has shown that they are serious about keeping Murray clean, upright and most important healthy.

Source: Paris Johnson Jr. NFL Draft Scouting Report by Joe Marino, The Draft Network

Paris Johnson Jr. is arguably the Arizona Cardinals most essential building block

By the time Murray returns to the field Johnson Jr. should have enough game experience under his belt and once he adapts to playing with Murray and getting used to his style of play, the duo could become a real problem for opponents. Johnson Jr.'s style and technique should allow him to transition easily to the speed of the NFL.

He doesn't get bullied at the line of scrimmage and plays upright making it difficult for pass rushers to get around him. Johnson Jr. has all of the tools and intangibles to become an elite tackle or guard in the NFL. As of right now Johnson Jr. is projected to be the starting right tackle. He played both guard and tackle during his tenure at Ohio State, so in the event something happens to starting left tackle DJ Humphries, he should be able to slide over and protect the quarterback's blindside.

The Arizona Cardinals aren't expected to field a competitive team this season so the idea is to get Johnson Jr. as many reps as possible and allow him and his fellow teammates to develop chemistry and the continuity they will need going forward. If the Cardinals ever needed a player to mentor a high profile rookie like Johnson Jr., they have the perfect candidate in Kelvin Beachum.

Beachum is a 34-year-old 12-year veteran who is widely known for his professionalism and leadership and this could turn out to be a great situation for the Cardinals and their offensive line. Johnson Jr. will be just one foundational piece as the Cardinals are sure to bring in more help to supplement that unit in future drafts and free agency. But the Cardinals have a heck of a player to work with and it will be exciting to see how he progresses throughout the course of the season.