Cardinals take OT Paris Johnson Jr. in ESPN 2023 NFL mock draft
Entering the 2023 NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals will have questions to answer about how they plan on protecting quarterback Kyler Murray.
Although it’s yet to be seen how the Cardinals’ offensive line will perform this coming season, they likely could be looking to add more beef in next year’s draft to further solidify Murray’s group of security guards.
ESPN writer Matt Miller’s first mock for the 2023 NFL Draft has the Cardinals doing just that, selecting Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr.
Miller used ESPN’s Football Power Index rankings to determine the draft order, having the Cardinals pick 22nd overall.
The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Johnson has played mostly at guard for the Buckeyes but projects at left tackle in the NFL and is expected to play there for OSU in 2022.
We’re still waiting for the Cardinals to build an offensive line that can keep Kyler Murray upright. This would be a step in the right direction. Johnson is a former top high school recruit who spent last season at guard. He’ll kick out to tackle in 2022, and scouts believe he has the potential to develop into a starting NFL left tackle.
Johnson was the No. 9 overall player and the top-ranked offensive line prospect in the class of 2020, per 247sports.
Moving over to left tackle for Ohio State, Johnson will have the chance to show scouts he can protect the blindside, as he will be doing so for Miller’s top-ranked quarterback in the 2023 draft, C.J. Stroud. The quarterback went fifth overall in Miller’s mock, to the Atlanta Falcons.
Johnson is also among Miller’s top offensive line prospects, having just Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski as the only lineman taken ahead of him, going No. 12 to the Washington Commanders.
The offensive line will be front and center for the Cardinals entering next season.
Arizona starting tackles D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum are entering contract years, while left guard Justin Pugh mulled retirement last offseason and starting center Rodney Hudson missed minicamp this past month for undisclosed reasons. Projected 2022 starter at guard Will Hernandez is also on a one-year deal.