Skip to main content

Paris Johnson Pick Already Paying Dividends for Cardinals

Through two preseason games, it's hard to find a better rookie offensive lineman than Paris Johnson Jr.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

Arizona Cardinals rookie offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. has already made plenty of strides since first arriving to the team's facility in Tempe. 

The Ohio State product arrived one day after he was drafted back in April and nervously spoke in front of a media-packed auditorium. Johnson was the first pick of a new era here in the desert and the pressure (after Arizona moved from pick 3 to 12 and then up to 6 to draft him) to perform right away on a veteran-infused offensive line was evident. 

Yet fast forward to present day, where Johnson has unseated right tackle Kelvin Beachum as a starter and has looked as not only one of the best players in the trenches for Arizona, but one of the best players in his draft class thus far. 

"Nobody is giving out preseason awards (least of all to rookie linemen), but I feel great right now about having had Johnson as my top-ranked tackle in the 2023 draft class," wrote The Athletic's Diante Lee. 

"In his two appearances so far, his agility and length have been evident, especially against the Broncos’ Randy Gregory. Johnson doesn’t have to overset to cut off rush angles, and his active feet keep him in winning position against countermoves. He still needs to add some lower-body strength, because he’s creating little movement in the run game, but he’s a safe pick to be the top-performing rookie tackle."

Drafting an offensive lineman is never sexy. It won't sell tickets - or jerseys - but games are won and lost in the trenches. The new regime led by general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon has done a great job of rebuilding the Cardinals as required. 

Johnson figures to help both in present and future team-building, though that's a long ways down the road. For now, Arizona's top pick will look to enjoy the smaller things, like laughing at trash talk from defensive linemen.

“I don’t really talk back. I’ve never been a guy that talks back, because I’m always thinking about the play call and I’m running through exactly what I did in my head and who could I have done that better," said Johnson. 

Talk is cheap in the NFL, a league where guys are battling for the right to put food on their family's plate. While Johnson says he doesn't engage much in the talk, the early returns on his play during preseason have been nothing short of excellent. 

Arizona Cardinals Top Stories

Cardinals Trade for Josh Dobbs

Cardinals Reveal Why They Traded Isaiah Simmons

Compensation for Josh Jones Trade Revealed

Cardinals Deal Josh Jones to Texans

DeAndre Hopkins Reacts to Isaiah Simmons Trade