Bears Draft Target: Paris Johnson
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Bears Draft Target: Paris Johnson

by - Senior Writer -

Despite the NFL Draft nearly two months away, there has already been a lot of trade chatter surrounding the Bears and their No. 1 overall pick. Not only have they been taking calls on that pick, but the more calls they take, the more likely it becomes that they will trade that pick.

Who they trade that pick to becomes the next question, as several QB-needy teams will be the center of attention. On paper, trading with Houston or Indianapolis makes the most sense, but there are some sleeper teams to keep an eye on. One of those teams is the Carolina Panthers, who are sitting with the ninth pick.

With new head coach Frank Reich in the mix, the Panthers need a franchise quarterback, so look for them to target one in round one. Trading with Carolina makes a ton of sense as both Matt Eberflus and Alan Williams worked on Reich's staff in Indianapolis, so it seems like you help us, we will help you out scenario. Should the Panthers trade for that No. 1 overall selection, Chicago would get the No. 9 pick in return and several other picks.

What they do with that first-round pick depends on who is available, but the Bears will have plenty of options. While dropping to ninth will help the Bears in the long run, it also comes with consequences, as Will Anderson Jr and Jalen Carter will most likely be off the board. That would force the Bears to turn their attention elsewhere, and the offensive line could be next.

If that is the route they want to play, Chicago has plenty of legitimate options to consider here, including former OSU offensive tackle Paris Johnson.

The 6-6 311-pound offensive lineman hails from the same college that Justin Fields attended, and the two even played together for one season. Johnson didn't see the field as much as Fields that season, but how cool would it be for them to be reunited and have the potential of Johnson protecting Fields for the next decade?

When you look at the rest of the offensive linemen in this year's class, Johnson is not the highest-rated one of the bunch, but he is a top-three OT. He is an extremely athletic OT for his size, and that will translate well in both the run and pass-blocking areas. For a team that focused on running the football, Johnson is the perfect fit for that position.

Not only is he athletic, but he has the ideal size of an OT in the NFL and does a phenomenal job on setting the edge in pass protection. That is something the Bears lacked last season, and he would be an immediate upgrade. Remember that this is a player who is still filling out his size, and you can only imagine how much better he will be.

A tackle by trade, Johnson can move around on the line and could wind up at the guard position. His quick first step allows him to get after the defensive line much quicker than most, while his never-ending motor enables him to reach the second level. He is a better pass blocker than a run blocker, but that isn't to say he is terrible against the run, as he graded out at 80 against the run and 85 against the pass.

Despite his quick first step, he doesn't get a ton of pop on initial contact, which will have to be fixed at the next level. He also tends to get displaced against heavier pass rushers, so keep that in mind when teams go against him. Johnson will be a project if you draft him, but he should also be expected to start week one.

When it comes to player comparisons, Johnson draws a ton of comparisons to Vikings OT Brian O'Neill. A second-round selection out of Pittsburgh, O'Neill quickly emerged as one of the best OTs in the game and now anchors the right side of the Vikings' offensive line. Johnson is a guy many teams will have an anchor mentality in mind as he appears to have all the tools for the next level.

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