ESPN’s McShay lauds Cardinals’ pick of Dorian Johnson

May 1, 2017, 8:25 AM | Updated: 5:32 pm

Pittsburgh offensive lineman Dorian Johnson (53) during the spring NCAA college football game, Satu...

Pittsburgh offensive lineman Dorian Johnson (53) during the spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 16, 2016 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

After months of speculation and rumors, the 2017 NFL Draft is now history.

Over the course of three days, 256 players were selected by the 32 franchises, beginning with Cleveland taking Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett and ending with Denver grabbing Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly.

The Arizona Cardinals drafted seven players over the three days, but one stood out to ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. In an article published Sunday, he picked one player from each team’s draft class as their best overall selection. Somewhat surprisingly, that pick was Dorian Johnson, a guard out of Pittsburgh whom Arizona got with the 115th pick in the fourth round.

Guard was a big need for the Cardinals after they lost Earl Watford in free agency and saw Evan Mathis retire. Arizona selected Johnson with the additional fourth-round pick received from Carolina to move down 21 slots in the third. Johnson is a plug-and-play starter for Arizona: He’s an elite run-blocker who has the arm length to get even better in pass protection. Johnson finished his career with 40 consecutive starts and took his game to another level in 2016.

Johnson was a First Team All-American and All-ACC selection following the 2016 season for an 8-5 Panthers team. He became the first Pitt offensive lineman to garner All-American honors in 22 years.

While Johnson was highly-regarded by draft analysts, his stock fell late in the process due to a liver condition. Johnson’s liver produces enzymes at a higher rate than normal, but he’s kept it in check with medication for years.

“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.

As McShay points out, there could be an opportunity for Johnson to play pretty early in his rookie season. Right guard is thought to be the weakest position on Arizona’s offensive line, with second-year player Cole Toner penciled in as the starter heading into OTAs. According to, Toner played just 10 offensive snaps in his rookie season.

Arizona Cardinals

Dallas Goedert #88 of the Philadelphia Eagles jumps out of a tackle by Dennis Gardeck #45 of the Ar...

Alex Weiner

Cardinals OLB Dennis Gardeck working to improve pass rush technique this offseason

Cardinals edge rusher Dennis Gardeck said he is improving his technique with new OLBs coach Rob Rodriguez to become a more complete rusher.

17 hours ago

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up prior to his game against the Philadelphia Eagles...

Tom Kuebel

Bleacher Report: Cardinals’ Kyler Murray is NFL’s most overrated QB

Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport ranks Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray as the most overrated player at his position in the NFL.

17 hours ago

Monti Ossenfort...

Arizona Sports

Barnwell: Arizona Cardinals 12th-most improved team this offseason

In ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell's eyes, the Cardinals are among those who have used the offseason to their advantage.

3 days ago

Budda Baker #3 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the second quarter against the Carolina Pan...

Wills Rice

ESPN’s Bowen: Best potential landing spots for Budda Baker, DeAndre Hopkins

ESPN's Matt Bowen gave the best potential landing spots for both wideout DeAndre Hopkins and Cardinals safety Budda Baker.

2 days ago

James Conner...

Tyler Drake

No complaints: Cardinals’ James Conner excited to ‘prove people wrong’ with new regime

While outside expectations are some of the lowest they have been in Cardinals history, RB James Conner isn't focused on the external noise.

2 days ago

Kyler Murray...

Arizona Sports

Simms: Cardinals’ Kyler Murray in ‘clock’s ticking’ tier of NFL quarterbacks

After going down with a season-ending knee injury, can Kyler Murray return to form and be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL?

3 days ago

ESPN’s McShay lauds Cardinals’ pick of Dorian Johnson