Player: Dorian Johnson
Selection: 4th round
Position: Offensive line
Weight: 300 pounds
Arm length: 35 1/4 inches
Hand size: 10 7/8 inches
Strengths: Prior to the draft, CardinalsSource labeled Johnson as our top mid-round offensive line prospect and said if the Cardinals had an opportunity to draft him in the third or fourth round, they would be wise to do so. What we like the most about Johnson's game is the athleticism and versatility he brings to the offensive line, because at a minimum, he can fill the role Earl Watford has played for the team in the past few seasons as a reserve guard and tackle. Johnson has the size necessary to compete with speed and power rushers off the edge, but he also plays with a low enough pad level and bends his hips well enough to be most effective as a guard. One of Johnson's best assets is his footwork at the point of attack, because he's able to keep a low base and keep his feet underneath his hips while driving forward, which allows him to create leverage against opposing linemen. When Johnson gets his hands into players, he's got the strength to drive defensive linemen off the ball thanks to the way he gets off the ball at the snap. Though he may not be as athletic as a player like Mike Iupati in space, there's no question Johnson can execute pulling concepts and move around the line of scrimmage to help facilitate run plays.
Weaknesses: The biggest concern regarding Johnson's future may be out of his control, as he reportedly has a liver issue that kept him off of many teams' draft boards. Even though the Cardinals were willing to take a chance on Johnson as a player in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, if he's not able to manage his health during his NFL career, it ultimately doesn't matter how much potential he brings to the table as a middle round value selection. One of the main issues we noticed in Johnson's game --and this isn't necessarily the worst issue to have-- is sometimes he fires out of his stance so aggressively that he's out of control and unable to maintain leverage against defensive players. When Johnson fires off the ball, he sometimes struggles to get his hands on a defender, instead relying too much on his frame to bully an opposing player, which is a tactic that won't work against technically advanced linemen in the NFL. The final weakness we noticed with Johnson's skill set is that he isn't as strong of a pass blocker as he is a run blocker, which may limit how effective he can be if the Cardinals attempt to work him at tackle in the future.
Johnson's fit: Johnson has the potential to be a tremendous fit for Arizona's offense, especially because the team didn't need to use a high round draft pick to take a chance on him. Johnson could wind up competing with last year's fourth round draft choice, Evan Boehm, for a starting job, and if he's completely healthy and has no issues dealing with the liver complications he reportedly suffers from, then we believe Johnson has a strong chance to earn meaningful playing time during his rookie season. One of the reasons the Cardinals struggled up front last year was because when Evan Mathis went down with an injury, Arizona didn't have a guard capable of firing off the ball and leading the charge in the run game on the right side of the line of scrimmage. While D.J. Humphries was an above average run blocker at right tackle, Arizona preferred to run the ball behind Iupati and Jared Veldheer on the left side because they were able to clear more space. Johnson has the skills to immediately help the Cardinals run the ball more effectively to the right, and at the very least, he'll be able to push Boehm and turn the right guard spot into a competitive battle during the month of August.