As a freshman, Pittsburgh offensive lineman Dorian Johnson had a decision to make. He wasn’t getting any playing time at tackle, the position he was recruited to play, and he had already used his redshirt year. Johnson consulted with his offensive line coach and the decision was made to kick him inside to guard.
All parties benefited from this new arrangement: Pittsburgh would run for nearly 3,000 yards in 2016 and Johnson would go on to be part of an offensive line that would be twice nominated for the Joe Moore Award. Despite his success, 40 straight starts, and a solid Combine performance, he still remains a bit of a sleeper. Those inside the league and the others with their ears to the ground know better:
“Similar to many teams, Dorian Johnson of Pittsburgh presently grades as our top-ranked guard. Dan Feeney is not far behind in my opinion, and several teams list the Indiana product as the top guard in the draft.” – Tony Pauline
Name: Dorian Johnson
Size: 6’5″ / 300 / 35 1/4” arm length
Class: Redshirt Senior
Comparison: Jahri Evans (Saints)
Draft Grade: Early 2nd Round
Combine Results: 40 Time – 5.27, Bench – 21, Vertical – 30″, Broad – 114″, 3 Cone – 8.39, 20 Shuttle – 5.09
Positives: Quick feet to get to space and second level consistently. Athletic and wins angles. When utilized, has heavy hands. Displays excellent pad level. Very good understanding of timing on combo blocks. Gains proper depth and sets anchor effectively. Disciplined in hitting his landmarks in the run game. Keeps feet moving through contact. Takes proper angle on down blocks; splits defenders feet. Good at shuffling and squeezing gaps on inside pass rushes. Creates good push at the point of attack. Ripped frame that can add bulk without sacrificing athleticism.
Negatives: Hand strike is inconsistent and wide at times. Has too much finesse to his game and could add some aggressiveness. Struggles to process information when there are multiple moving pieces in his periphery. Reaches landmarks at second level but could use his length better in space. Allows hands into his frame. Can struggle with inside quickness. Tends to bash shoulder into defenders chest on reach blocks instead of using hands/length.
Outlook: Johnson is a Day 1 starter in a zone blocking scheme and can play both guard spots. Adding to his value, he can serve as an emergency backup at either tackle spot and possesses the length and frame to eventually kick outside full time. Pro Bowl ceiling and will start in a league starving for long, athletic linemen for a very long time.