Projecting where Paris Johnson Jr. fits into the Arizona Cardinals offensive line

Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA;  Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr. with NFL commissioner Roger
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr. with NFL commissioner Roger / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals hit a home run when they selected Paris Johnson Jr. sixth overall in the first round of the NFL Draft. Where does he fit this season?

With Paris Johnson Jr., the Arizona Cardinals may have an elite left tackle on their hands. But Johnson may not begin his NFL career at the position. Instead, look for Johnson to kick off what should be a successful tenure in the NFL at guard while incumbent left tackle D.J. Humphries stays at tackle. 

While I fully expect the Cards to snag a center tonight either in the second or third round, let’s assume for a second they go with the players they’ve already signed, or in Johnson’s case, drafted. What could the offensive line look like four-and-a-half months from now on opening day? Here is the most realistic projection:

  • Left Tackle: D.J. Humphries
  • Left Guard: Paris Johnson
  • Center: Hjalte Froholdt
  • Right Guard: Will Hernandez
  • Right Tackle: Kelvin Beachum
  • Key Reserves: Elijah Wilkinson, Josh Jones, Lecitus Smith, Dennis Daley

Arizona Cardinals could slowly convert Paris Johnson back to tackle

One reason Johnson fits well as a guard to kick things off is that he had experience playing the position when he was a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes. This will allow Johnson to acclimate himself with the NFL’s speed, then when he is ready, he will make the switch to left tackle while Humphries shifts over to play right tackle. 

It will be interesting to follow Johnson and see when he makes the inevitable switch, or if he acclimates himself so well, he winds up opening the season at left tackle. Either way, you can expect Johnson to eventually line up at tackle to protect quarterback Kyler Murray’s blind side for a long, long time. 

As implied earlier, the Cards may not be finished picking linemen, as although Froholdt has experience playing center, chances are high that the Redbirds may want to roll with a pure center. This could result in two rookies starting side-by-side come September. 

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