What to Know: Packers take OT Paris Johnson in NFL.com mock draft

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 05: Paris Johnson Jr. #77 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field on November 05, 2022 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 05: Paris Johnson Jr. #77 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field on November 05, 2022 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

In the third iteration of Daniel Jeremiah’s one-round mock draft, he has the Green Bay Packers going in a bit of a different direction than what most may expect, with them taking offensive tackle Paris Johnson with the 15th overall selection.

Standing 6’6″ and weighing 313 pounds, Johnson has played 1,463 career snaps at Ohio State, according to PFF. 757 have come at left tackle, where he started in 2022, and another 699 at right guard. Although viewed as a tackle, we all know how important versatility along the offensive line is to Brian Gutekunst.

Last season for the Buckeyes, Johnson allowed just one sack and 10 pressures–ranking 11th in pass-blocking efficiency. He also had the 12th-highest PFF run-blocking grade among offensive tackles as well.

Johnson did not complete all of the athletic testing at the NFL Combine, but it’s worth noting that of the offensive tackles Gutekunst has drafted, all have at least 33-inch arms, and elite 10-yard splits in the 40-yard dash, along with posting an overall Relative Athletic Score of at least 8.0. Johnson will run the Ohio State Pro Day, but we do know at this time that he does have arms that measure 36.12 inches.

Johnson is the second-ranked tackle in this year’s draft class over at The Draft Network and would likely be a Day 1 starter at right tackle for the Packers, providing them with added flexibility along the offensive line. Green Bay also reportedly met with Johnson at the NFL Combine.

For more on his game, here is what NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had to say in his pre-draft report.

"“Long, athletic tackle in need of additional technique work but possessing the traits to become a long-time starter on the left side. Johnson is still filling out his frame and he should get stronger. He’s much better as a move blocker than man blocker but he can bridge that gap with more coaching. He’s loose and quick in pass protection but will need to add core strength and get better with inside hands to prevent edge defenders from bypassing his anchor. Johnson’s athletic tools and position versatility are advantageous but the going could be a little bumpy early on before he settles in.”"

Looking at the current state of the offensive tackle position for the Green Bay Packers, there doesn’t seem to be much of a need at the position. David Bakhtiari is sticking around for the 2023 season, and the Packers just tendered restricted free agent Yosh Nijman, which presumably means that he will be back as well–unless he’s traded, which as I discuss here, I don’t expect to happen.

In addition to those two, Zach Tom proved to be a capable starter at both tackle positions in 2022. Elgton Jenkins is another option if needed, and the Packers have two high-upside players in Caleb Jones and Rasheed Walker–not to mention Luke Tenuta, who spent last season on the 53-man roster.

So as I said, this group is in good shape. However, you don’t have to squint terribly hard to see how quickly offensive tackle could become a major need.

If Green Bay cuts Bakhtiari next offseason, they will save $21.5 million in cap space. Nijman will hit free agency next offseason without an extension, and although Jenkins can play tackle if needed, he’s clearly at his best when at guard. I also wouldn’t rule out Tom challenging Josh Myers at center this summer. Myers had an up-and-down second season, while Gutekunst said at the combine that during the 2022 pre-draft process, the Packers believed Tom’s best position was center.

Tenuta remains an unknown, with only seven career snaps, as do Jones and Walker. Although both have potential, at this time, we have no idea if either can become a starting-caliber player.

As we’ve seen over the last three drafts when Gutekunst has selected three offensive linemen in each, investing in the trenches is something he is very willing to do. Offensive tackle is also one of the most important positions in football, and as I just laid out, there is an incoming need at the position. Although there may be other positions that are perceived as bigger needs, the ingredients for the Packers to take a first-round offensive tackle in 2023 are there.

Any success that Jordan Love is going to have as a young starting quarterback begins up front with the play of the offensive line.