Cardinals draftee Paris Johnson Jr. felt wanted by Kyler Murray during visit

Apr 27, 2023, 8:45 PM | Updated: 10:40 pm

Paris Johnson Jr. walks onstage after being selected sixth overall by the Arizona Cardinals during ...

Paris Johnson Jr. walks onstage after being selected sixth overall by the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 27, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Offensive line prospect Paris Johnson Jr. gave a head nod and said “hey” as he walked past Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray during his top 30 visit with Arizona ahead of the NFL Draft.

Murray told Johnson by name to come over and talk.

“I reached for my phone and texted my teammate Luke (Wypler) like, ‘Dude, Kyler knows my first name,'” Johnson said. “I’ve never met him in my life … From that moment I was like, ‘Woah, this is real, I really have a chance.'”

Murray told the Ohio State lineman that he watched his tape and Pro Day, telling Johnson he would love for the Cardinals to add him in the upcoming draft.

Lo and behold, Arizona selected Johnson with the No. 6 overall pick in the first round on Thursday, trading up from No. 12 to do so after initially trading back from No. 3.

The draftee said he’ll play hard for anyone, but for a team leader to reach out and make him feel wanted established a connection.

“That’s what you want, the connection you have with your quarterback is everything,” Johnson said. “I had that at Ohio State with (No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud).”

Johnson said he wanted to land with Arizona heading into Thursday night. He relaxed until the Cardinals were on the clock for the No. 3 pick, when he became glued to his phone.

Arizona traded back with the Houston Texans to No. 12, and the prospect felt he would be selected before then due to teams needing a tackle.

He used the bathroom when the Detroit Lions were on the clock at No. 6 and came back to a phone call from Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort. That’s when he learned the Cardinals traded back up to take him, and he was fired up.

Johnson has watched his share of Murray since he was in high school and the QB played at Oklahoma.

“I love the hustle he plays with, I love the way he extends plays,” Johnson said. “I love the way he trusts his tackles to stay in the pocket when he needs to stay in the pocket, but if something were to break down he fights to the finish and believes his tackles are going to keep playing to try to extend the play while he’s trying to move outside the pocket to get the right throw. 

“I want to be a part of the guys who protect him.”

A report indicated that Murray wanted the Cardinals to take Johnson and let it be known inside the building, although Ossenfort said he was not aware of his QB’s preference.

“Somebody told me that. We gotta get Kyler on the scouting staff,” Ossenfort said after the pick.

For the first time since Murray joined Arizona in 2019, the Cardinals drafted an offensive lineman in the first two rounds.

Johnson played both guard and tackle at Ohio State, starting at left tackle in 2022. Ossenfort said the Cardinals will work him at multiple spots to find the right fit.

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