Thursday, April 25, 2013
Eagles pick Lane Johnson at No. 4
By Dan Graziano
NEW YORK -- No team in the NFL learned as painfully as the Philadelphia Eagles did last year the value of depth on the offensive line. They had other problems, sure, but the loss of four starting offensive linemen to injury for extended periods of time was a major contributor to the Eagles' 4-12 record in 2012 and a significant reason they ended up with the No. 4 pick in this year's NFL draft.
So it's not a huge surprise that they took an offensive lineman, Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson, with that No. 4 pick.
A pick for either line -- offensive or defensive -- would have made sense for the Eagles in the first round, but Johnson should slide in immediately at right tackle and allow the Eagles to move Todd Herremans inside to right guard to replace disappointing former first-rounder Danny Watkins. And since Jason Peters, the Eagles' starting left tackle, is 31 years old and coming off two Achilles surgeries, it's sensible for the Eagles to take a player who could eventually take over as their starting left tackle and play that position for years to come.
A lot of people will talk about how perfect Johnson is for the fast-paced offense new coach Chip Kelly is expected to run, since he's fast and athletic and could offer the Eagles the same thing on the right side that Peters offers on the left -- the ability to block his first man and then get out and block at the second level as well. Athletic tackles on both sides should help in the screen game that disappeared last year with Peters on the shelf.
All in all, a good, sensible value pick for the Eagles at No. 4. I have written that I believed they needed to find a long-term franchise building block, regardless of position, with that pick, and Johnson is the kind of guy who looks as though he could be just that. The pick addresses need, pays respect to value and offers Kelly and Eagles fans an opportunity to dream big dreams about the fun, exciting things they'll be able to do with Kelly's mind and an offense that just got more athletic.