Saturday, September 5, 2015

Lane Johnson right up Eagles' alley

Chip Kelly said the Eagles' first-round selection was really pretty simple.

Lane Johnson right up Eagles' alley

Lane Johnson speaks during a news conference after being selected fourth overall by the Philadelphia Eagles during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2013, at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Craig Ruttle/AP)
Lane Johnson speaks during a news conference after being selected fourth overall by the Philadelphia Eagles during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2013, at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Craig Ruttle/AP)

We envisioned all sorts of complicated scenarios and harried phone calls, but Chip Kelly said it was really pretty simple and sane.

“We had the three offensive tackles and Dion (Jordan, the defensive end Kelly coached at Oregon),” Kelly said, after telling reporters there were four players the Eagles were comfortable drafting at fourth overall. Lane Johnson from Oklahoma, the former quarterback, former tight end, former defensive end, was generally considered the third-best OT in a draft where OTs were the stars, and he became the newest Eagle Thursday night, taken with the team’s highest draft pick since Donovan McNabb arrived second overall in 1999.

The other two OTs, Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, went 1-2, as had been the buzz the previous few days. Then Miami traded up to Oakland’s third pick. In the media room, we figured the Eagles were sweating this out, wondering if the Dolphins had intentionally moved in front of the Birds to take someone new coach Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman really wanted. Miami took Jordan. The Eagles quickly took Johnson.

Asked about fielding calls from teams wanting the fourth pick, Kelly said there weren’t any, after the Raiders-Dolphins trade. So the Eagles took Johnson, whom Kelly conceded is a “raw guy, in a draft of raw guys,” but also “the most athletic offensive tackle we’ve seen.”

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Kelly deflected questions about the obvious fallout, which would entail where Johnson is going to play. One would think Todd Herremans would move back inside, and Danny Watkins, the struggling 2011 first-rounder, would move back to the bench. But Kelly said that will be determined by how Johnson, Watkins and the other guys play.

Johnson said he came into the draft thinking the Eagles were among a handful of teams -- Arizona, San Diego, Detroit, and Miami were the others he named -- who might take him. When Miami traded up, he thought that might be where he was headed, but soon afterward, a 215 area code showed up on his phone, and Johnson knew otherwise.

"I know Oregon ran a very fast-paced offense, it was very similar to Oklahoma," Johnson told a conference call with reporters at the NovaCare center. "I think I fit with what they need."

Eagles guard Evan Mathis wears Johnson's college number, 69. Mathis tweeted that Johnson couldn't have it. Johnson said that was OK.

"I really don't care. I try to be as balanced as possible," Johnson said, when asked which side he prefers.

Daily News Staff Writer
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