Monday, July 6, 2015

Lane Johnson: The Eagles' Bugs Bunny?

Lane Johnson is not likely to pass it to himself, but the point is, he could. There might even be a rushing TD in his future.

Lane Johnson: The Eagles' Bugs Bunny?

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Eagles first round draft pick Lane Johnson. (Craig Ruttle/AP)
Eagles first round draft pick Lane Johnson. (Craig Ruttle/AP)

Maybe it’s all the talk about Chip Kelly thinking outside of the box. Or maybe it’s all that video they showed of Lane Johnson last night, quarterbacking his junior college team, catching passes later on, even rushing the passer before Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made the move that will now make him a multimillionaire.

Maybe it was all of it that made me conjure up this old cartoon of Bugs playing all the positions against the Gashouse Gorillas. (Scroll to 2:37 of the video, which is at the end of this post).

While Johnson is not likely to pass it to himself, the point is, he could. There might even be rushing touchdown in his future, presuming he can hold onto the ball at least as well as Michael Vick.

Here’s the question: If Andy drafted this guy, would he still pass it on fourth-and-goal from the 1?

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It’s kind of amazing, when you think about whom he’s likely to replace. Two years ago the Eagles took a chance on an ex-hockey player, ex-fireman, a Canadian who just kind of fell into football as his size increased. Danny Watkins still seems to be learning the game. Painfully.

Now their roll of the dice is on a lifetime football player, a quarterback just a few years ago, who has moved up the football food chain as his food intake has increased. Lane Johnson is a ridiculously athletic big man only a few years removed from knowing what it feels like to be hit by such a man.

If you’re going to take a chance on a guy, this is the way to do it. Anyone who has watched even a little of the video available on Johnson – well it’s not unlike seeing those clips of Reggie White when he was in college. There are athletic things he does that no one his size is supposed to be able to do.

My favorite is from the Senior Bowl, when he ran down Utah State cornerback Will Davis from behind after he picked off a pass and ran him out of bounds.

I liked what I saw of Eric Fisher, especially his on-field meanness. But Johnson, learning on the job, played against bigger and better schools and according to draftnik Mike Mayock, improved every single week. The Eagles have been burned on drafting for potential before, but the thing is, he’s already really, really good.

Here’s part of a scouting report from WalterFootball.com: ``Johnson was rock-solid in pass protection in the one-on-ones. He clearly has been well-developed by the Sooners coaching staff to protect the blind side.

``There is no doubt that Johnson is a rare athlete. He is as fast as a tight end and is just scratching the surface of his potential. Johnson has light, quick feet to get depth in his drop and negate speed rushes. His phenomenal agility lets him glide with pass-rushers, while speed-rushers get frustrated with his ability to mirror.

It’s hard to get excited about an offensive lineman. Although I remember being intrigued when the Eagles got Jon Runyan, and someone showed me video of him pancaking a guy. But this was a great pick for a coach expected to provide new wrinkles for the old NFL.

And now, for the second pick….

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