Paris Johnson ready to be a sponge as he embarks on Cardinals career

Apr 27, 2023, 9:12 PM | Updated: Apr 28, 2023, 7:47 am

Paris Johnson Jr. at NFL Draft...

Paris Johnson speaks with reporters after being selected sixth overall by the Arizona Cardinals at the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Kansas City. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

KANSAS CITY — Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Paris Johnson Jr. was a name that picked up traction this past week when it came down to the Arizona Cardinals’ first-round thinking in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Getting a seal of approval — albeit a reported one — from quarterback Kyler Murray also helps.

But before Johnson could don a Cardinals draft hat, there was quite a bit of moving and shaking from new general manager Monti Ossenfort, who first traded down from No. 3 to No. 12 before jumping back up to No. 6 to land the lineman.

Despite all the chaos, Johnson was confident he’d be headed to the Valley when the draft dust settled.

“You can ask my mom or anybody in that area,” he said. “The first two picks, I was chilling. As soon as the Cardinals came on the clock, I was staring at my phone the entire freaking time. I was locked in from that moment.

“I told everybody before when we were doing the red carpet … I told my family I feel like I’m going to be a Cardinal today. If not, I’m going to be a little sad.”

That last part should be music to Cardinals fans’ ears.

While Arizona opted against adding Will Anderson, who heads to the Houston Texans at third overall, bringing in a reinforcement in the trenches is a step in the right direction amid the Cardinals’ current rebuild.

Given Johnson’s versatility — he played guard and tackle during his three-year career at Ohio State — the lineman could be a contributor right out of the gates.

“What I add to the Cardinals is the ability to put me anywhere,” Johnson said. “I’ve never snapped before but if they teach me, I will snap for the Cardinals, because I want to be a part of the best five.

“Guard, tackle, might have a future as a 6-foot-7 center. We’ll see if that’s what they want to do but I’m trying to ball out and play hard for the guys that are already in there.”

And although he’s only been a Cardinal for a few hours, he’s already got a mentor in mind in starting left tackle D.J. Humphries — even if he has yet to talk with him.

“I saw D.J. outside on his own (during my top-30 visit with the Cardinals) just putting in work by himself,” Johnson said. “That just goes to show you that even as a vet, an established guy and team and he’s still in there. A lot of guys that’re vets, they don’t come around until training camp.

“To see a guy like already working by himself, that just shows the type of culture that is a part of the team. To be able to hang with a guy like him, ‘I’m going to follow your lead on that.’ That was my impact at Ohio State. … Now, I’m in the position where I’m going to follow his lead and do what he does. Develop that routine and commit to it.”

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