2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Zion Johnsonby Mason Thompson March 9, 2022 4 comments
The 2022 NFL Draft has a ton of depth along the offensive line. Even with that depth, the top of the class is also great. That includes Boston College’s uber-versatile prospect, Zion Johnson. Johnson was a zero-star recruit out of high school and committed to Division-I FCS Davidson. After 2018, he transferred to Boston College and has since succeeded mightily in the zone offense the Eagles run. He has started numerous games at left tackle and left guard, and that versatility continued as he played center at the Senior Bowl.
Johnson came into the scouting combine with something to prove, as he had been listed as a potential first-round prospect to some. At the combine, the Boston College offensive lineman wowed scouts and analysts alike with his quickness in the 40-yard dash, three-cone, and short shuttle, along with his 32 reps in the bench press. Now, Johnson has seemingly locked himself into the first-round conversation, and the question is, how high does he go?
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Name: Zion Johnson
Jersey: No. 77
Position: Offensive Line
School: Boston College
Class: Redshirt Senior
Weight: 312 lbs
Games Watched: Pittsburgh (2020), Clemson (2020), Clemson (2021), Missouri (2021), Virginia Tech (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Pass Blocking (13.75/15)
Johnson is a technician in his pass sets. Whether it be at left tackle or left guard, he is consistent in his sets, along with his hand placements. Even though he played at an FCS school originally, Johnson has a great IQ when it comes to delayed blitzes and stunts coming across his face. According to PFF, the Boston College lineman only allowed one sack and three hurries in the 2021 season.
Run Blocking (12.75/15)
While Johnson’s pass-blocking gets talked about the most, he is certainly no slouch in the run game as well. In 2019, he was paving lanes for AJ Dillon, and this year, he was downing people at the second level and as a lead-blocker. Johnson is aggressive and powerful, and it certainly helps him in the run game.
Johnson has a stout and powerful anchor on the interior, and it showed throughout his career. Unfortunately, there was a game in 2020 where Patrick Jones had his way with Johnson when he was playing left tackle. Johnson got pushed back almost into the quarterback’s lap by Jones. While there isn’t too much concern here, it is on tape.
Johnson’s footwork is quick and nifty. In his pass sets, he is consistently in the best leverage possible when he meets with a defender. In the run game, he does an excellent job of, when he gets close to defenders, squaring up to them by waddling up to them before making an engagement with the defender.
Johnson’s hands rarely divert to the outside of the frame. He has a quick punch and when he gets his hands on the defender, it is over. Johnson is stronger than an ox and doesn’t give up on a play, and finishes defenders to the ground. In the run game, Johnson takes fantastic angles on the boundary and can square up defenders at the next level.
Johnson is very athletic. He scored a 9.55 RAS score, and it showed up on tape as well. Johnson is a strong player and can move people in the run game and finish them to the ground. In the Boston College zone-run scheme, Johnson could get out in front and pave lanes for the Eagle running backs. He is an absurd athlete, and it is getting slept on right now.
Johnson started 30 games at BC, with 18 at left guard and 12 at left tackle. Along with that, he took some reps at center during the Senior Bowl. With the positional versatility comes some scheme versatility as well. Johnson played in a zone-rushing scheme this year, while he also blocked in a power-running scheme, paving lanes for Dillon. At the next level, Johnson is best fit on the interior of the line but in a pinch, can play at either tackle spot as well.
Johnson’s length may be the only slight weakness in his game. He comes in at a touch over six-foot-three and weighed 312 pounds at the combine. Johnson also has 34-inch arms, which is above average in this class and gives him an advantage to long-arm interior defenders in the run game. There aren’t any concerns here, but some teams may not have him reach their thresholds in terms of height and weight.
Johnson is a mauler in the run game, but he is a technician in that sense as well. He doesn’t put his teammates in harm’s way by throwing defenders into running lanes or tossing a pass-rusher into his quarterback, but he can lose some defenders because of his force to drive them into the ground and finish them.
Johnson is one of, if not the best, interior lineman in the class. Yes, Tyler Linderbaum has been getting most of the attention along with Kenyon Green. Johnson offers an uber versatile and athletic prospect that can play at any spot along the offensive line you want him to. He is a dominant pass-blocker and a bully in the run game.
Johnson has been linked to the back-half of the first round to teams like the Cardinals, Bills, and Bengals. With his dominant combine performance, it wouldn’t be as surprising if the Boston College offensive lineman were to go as high as the mid-teens to one of the picks the Philadelphia Eagles have, or the Pittsburgh Steelers selection if they opt to not take a quarterback. The 2022 draft is unique, and Johnson may be a top-10 player in the class, but since he doesn’t play at a premier position, he will fall to the back half of the first round. The team that selects Johnson will have a dominant offensive lineman for years to come.
Rookie Projection: Starting Interior Lineman
Third Year Projection: All-Pro Interior Lineman
Final Grade (89.5/100): Early First Round
Player Comp: Elgton Jenkins