Cardinals hope to have found steal in OL Dorian Johnson

Apr 29, 2017, 4:46 PM

(AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt, FIle)...

(AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt, FIle)

(AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt, FIle)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Supposedly, a liver issue is what caused Dorian Johnson to fall to the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, pick No. 115 overall.

How much of a concern is it? Well, when asked what it was called, Johnson said he couldn’t remember.

“It’s like a really long word,” he said, with a laugh.

So, apparently, not really much of a concern.

A 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman who played both guard and tackle for Pitt, Johnson spent the majority of his time at left guard, but said he is comfortable anywhere along the line. Scouting reports reveal a solid all-around lineman who has room to improve, but a pretty high floor.

According to Johnson, his issue results in him having five times the normal amount of enzymes in his liver. He has had it his entire life, and it hasn’t proven to be a problem so far.

“It hasn’t affected me in my playing, whatsoever, but I guess a lot of teams thought it was a red flag and thought it was going to prohibit the way I play,” he said.

Johnson proclaimed himself to be completely healthy without issues, though he does treat himself with medication.

Otherwise, he is “absolutely not worried about it all.”

The Cardinals are comfortable with him.

“Some think Coach and I have some liver issues but we’re doing just fine,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim said, admitting it was a terrible joke. “He’s fine. He’s doing alright. It’s not been an issue in the past.

“I’ve talked to everybody at Pittsburgh, I’ve talked to our medical staff, I’ve talked to our team doctor; we don’t foresee it being an issue, particularly in a guy that could have been taken quite a bit higher and somebody we were very, very excited about.”

If not for his liver, Johnson likely would have been picked long before the Cardinals ultimately grabbed him. A four-year letterman at Pitt who started 42 of 51 games he played in and was a first-team All-American as a senior, Keim said they had him rated extremely high.

“Physical player, excellent technician, extremely smart,” he said. “Fortunate, in my opinion, to get him in round four.”

Perhaps the Cardinals’ risk, however big or slight it may be, will turn into their gain.

“I was expecting to go a lot earlier,” Johnson said. “But it is what it is. I’m just truly grateful to have this opportunity to play for the Cardinals, and everything happens for a reason.”

Johnson said he had a meeting and workout with Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin after Pitt’s pro day, and met with the organization at the Scouting Combine as well. His experience in a pro-style offense at Pitt should help his transition to the NFL, and though he finished his college career with 39 straight starts, Johnson understands a similar role may not be waiting for him just yet.

“Generally, coaches haven’t really told me what their plans for me, if they want me to come in and start right away or if I’m going to pushing for a spot,” he said. “As a player, my mindset is I should be pushing for starting time, regardless.

“I should be holding myself to that standard, that I’m going to come in, I’m going to work every day, get the playbook down, work on the technique, do whatever extra and I’m going to try to push to play as early as possible to help the team.”

Follow Adam Green on Twitter

Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray at mandatory minicamp...

Arizona Sports

Kyler Murray outside of top 10 quarterbacks in ESPN ranking

An ESPN poll of NFL executives, scouts and coaches had the Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray outside of the top 10 quarterbacks.

22 hours ago

Budda Baker during Week 12 practice...

Arizona Sports

Budda Baker ranked as top 10 safety in ESPN rankings

An ESPN poll of NFL executives, scouts and coaches had the Arizona Cardinals' Budda Baker ranked as a top-10 safety.

2 days ago

Bilal Nichols looks on...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals’ Bilal Nichols paying it forward with 3rd annual youth football camp

Growing up with two monumental role models in his grandparents, Bilal Nichols is hoping he can be the same to those in his hometown.

2 days ago

Kyler Murray smiles...

Tyler Drake

49ers turned to Cardinals fans in Arizona’s win vs. Eagles: ‘Get ’em, Kyler Murray!’

The San Francisco 49ers had a major rooting interest in the Arizona Cardinals' Week 17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

3 days ago

Trey McBride runs the rock...

Tyler Drake

Trey McBride outside of top 10 tight ends in ESPN ranking

An ESPN poll of NFL executives, scouts and coaches had the Arizona Cardinals' Trey McBride outside of the top-10 tight ends.

4 days ago

Budda Baker runs through drills during practice...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals Corner podcast: Diving into the offseason mailbag

Should Budda Baker get extended? Cardinals Corner's Tyler Drake and guest host Kevin Zimmerman answer that and more in an offseason mailbag.

5 days ago

Cardinals hope to have found steal in OL Dorian Johnson