Friday, April 26, 2013

Lane Johnson Comes To Those Who Wait

As the early picks in the NFL Draft started, I was on a treadmill and really not loving life. Kansas City failed to do the dumb thing and took T Eric Fisher, and then the Jaguars also failed to miss and took T Luke Joeckel. With CB Dee Milliner an injury risk and the next tier DTs (Star Lotulei, Sharrif Floyd) not thrilling me, I was dreading the possibility of a reach for OLB Dion Jordan from Oregon, coach Chip Kelly's last stop, or even the Hail Mary ploy of QB Geno Smith. (Still on the board as I write this, with the first round over. Wow.) T Lane Johnson was looking like where the tier shunted down, but Oakland was on the clock, and Oakland's always good for a whiff pick...

And then Oakland up and moved the pick to Miami, a team with a crying need for a T with Jake Long no longer in town, and I upped the speed on the treadmill to run off my hate. The draft wasn't going to give us a franchise QB, and now it wasn't even going to give us a top-rated tackle. ESPN was showing Johnson, the talk was all going that way, and my mind was giving me all kinds of Bad Juju...

At which point Miami stepped to the podium and, at least for one night and to the mystification of the Lemur's experts, whiffed the pick with Jordan.

Why the Dolphins decided that they needed to double up on speed rushers when they already had Cameron Wake, or why they were going to replace Long with air, we'll never know. But the trade up and pick made me so much happier to have Johnson, since he was now the relief pick, rather than the settling one. Had the Raiders simply stayed put and taken a defensive player, drafting Johnson wouldn't have felt like such an escape. (Left to the history books, of course, is whether Johnson is actually a good player, or whether Kelly would have taken Jordan instead of him, had he the option.)

Now that the Oklahoma product is on board, it seems like such the right pick. Kelly's offense is all about up-tempo and running the ball; a combine warrior like Johnson seems like a perfect fit for that. He can handle the ball from his QB and TE days, so if the coach wants to do goofy stuff like giving him a short yardage carry or throwing the ball to him at the goal line, that's all on the table. He keeps the odious Danny Watkins off the field, can move to a couple of different places in case the rehabs of way too many of his O-line brethren don't pan out right away, and gives the club the potential of not one, but two agile tackles pancaking defensive backs on long Shady McCoy runs. I'd still rather have had Joeckel, but the pick is wearing well on me.

There's also one other thing about the pick that I love; the Eagles did not outsmart themselves. And man alive, was there opportunities to do that; just look at the Cowboys action tonight, or how the Raiders traded down and still somehow didn't get Floyd, who would have been perfect for them. They also didn't trade up or panic when Miami moved ahead of them, and for the most part, don't seem to have the previous era's desire to show how smart they were with every pick.

Johnson was the best player available, at the position where the Eagles had the most need. Let's hope the rest of the Draft goes as well.

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule