Over per week in the past, I mocked Boston School offensive guard Zion Johnson to the Bucs. A couple of days later, Professional Bowl left guard Ali Marpet introduced his surprising retirement. That transfer despatched some shockwaves via the twenty seventh general choice in lots of mock drafts, because the Bucs face huge holes on their inside offensive line. Along with Marpet’s retirement, middle Ryan Jensen and proper guard Alex Cappa are pending free brokers.
It’s no shock Tampa Bay has met with a number of offensive linemen on the Mix, most notably Johnson. The hulking Golden Eagle guard landed a proper interview with Tampa Bay this week, even assembly head coach Bruce Arians.
“I really did meet with the Bucs,” Johnson stated. “It was actually good. I received to speak to Coach Arians in a proper interview with them. I positively really feel I might [plug into their scheme]. And I noticed that Ali Marpet simply retired. He was a extremely nice participant. I’d love the chance to step in there.”
At 6-3, 316 kilos, Johnson has the dimensions and athleticism Tampa Bay covets up entrance. He’s able to taking part in in zone and hole schemes, bringing distinctive energy and consistency to the place. Johnson can be a former sort out, one thing Bucs GM Jason Licht covets in his offensive line prospects. Licht has taken collegiate tackles in Cappa and Marpet, solely to maneuver them inside in Tampa Bay. Johnson even performed some middle on the Senior Bowl in Cellular, Alabama a month in the past.
“I had a variety of work move blocking in house,” Johnson stated about his time at sort out. “That basically helped me at guard. Being one-on-one just about the entire 12 months actually helped me in conditions this 12 months. The place, on the within earlier than, possibly I needed to block a 4i (method) alone. However I simply had expertise blocking in house once I was at sort out. That’s one thing I struggled with taking part in sort out early in my profession. However I had the chance to study and develop at that place. Then I translated some issues again to protect.”
Johnson even has the small college roots Licht is so keen on, transferring from Davidson (FCS) to Boston School in 2019. When his collegiate profession launched at Davidson, Johnson was a shell of himself – actually. The primary spherical prospect’s dedication to routine, diet and heavy lifts within the weight room allowed him to attain outstanding weight positive aspects.
“So I got here into faculty at 225,” Johnson stated. “I performed my first season at 250 kilos (at Davidson). That offseason I received as much as 285. I used to be 295 once I received to Boston School. Most just lately I used to be 316-320, someplace in that vary final season. I really feel most comfy 316-320.”
That hasn’t impacted Johnson’s physique one bit. In reality, in keeping with teammate Alec Lindstrom, Johnson is much more of a bodily freak than earlier than. Lindstrom additionally sang Johnson’s praises as an excellent teammate who works his tail off.
“Zion is a superb participant,” Lindstrom stated. “He’s a bodily specimen. You have a look at him, his arms are like this (spreads palms out) and he’s received a 6-pack. It’s like, ‘Dude, you’re 315 kilos with a 6-pack! How are you doing that?’. However I keep in mind daily we’d have the winter exercise (in faculty). Then Zion and I’d exit and do additional takeoffs or move units. Simply speaking soccer. Doing that additional work to get higher and dealing with one another. Nearly daily, simply doing the additional work and speaking soccer with Zion.”
Zion Johnson might be in play for the Steelers at #20, particularly if they do not like every QBs there. Getting reps at middle this week after taking part in guard/sort out at BC. Sturdy + athletic. Will get out in entrance of Muma on this display (#77). #Steelers pic.twitter.com/JMBtlOYS2l
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) February 3, 2022
On paper and on tape, Johnson is a close to excellent match for what the Bucs search for when drafting offensive linemen. He’s excessive character, works laborious, loves soccer, has excellent dimension and physicality and could be very constant. He has a background at sort out, and might be place versatile shifting ahead. Lastly, his soccer IQ has been praised by a number of who know him.
However will Johnson final to the Bucs choose at No. 27? That shall be one of many enduring questions of the pre-draft course of for Tampa Bay.