Eagles Rookie OT Lane Johnson looks impressive early

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson showed real potential in his NFL debut.

When the Eagles drafted Lane Johnson with the 4th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, they knew exactly what they were getting: the most athletic offensive lineman in the whole draft class.

For this reason, the word on Johnson was that he had the highest ceiling out of the top rated offensive tackle prospects. The downfall is that he was said to be less NFL ready than the other top OTs such as Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel.

It's only been one week, but the very early returns on Johnson are positive. Compare Lane's performance to the Joeckel and Fisher, per Pro Football Focus:

Eric Fisher, T, Kansas City Chiefs
Grade: -1.5
Snaps: 64
Analysis: A solid if unspectacular first showing from Fisher who would give up three hurries on 37 pass rushes. The disappointing thing, as it was during preseason, was his work in the run game which netted him a negative grade.

Luke Joeckel, T, Jacksonville Jaguars
Grade: -1.3
Snaps: 74
Analysis: Had some issues in pass protection, getting beat for a sack and four hurries to end the day with a 92.2 Pass Blocking Efficiency rating that was only the 42nd best out of 65 qualifying tackles. He’ll have easier tests than the combo of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

Lane Johnson, T, Philadelphia Eagles
Grade: +3.1
Snaps: 83
Analysis: Quite the debut from Johnson who excelled in the Eagles’ opening day victory. It was his run blocking that really stood out, earning the highest grade of any tackle in this regard.

Lane's +3.1 grade made him the 6th rated NFL OT overall. It is no surprise that Lane would exceed in run blocking given his athleticism and ability to block in space. The Eagles ran the ball ~63% of the time on Monday, so Lane's skills were display.

Lane's struggles came in pass protection. It will be interesting to see if Lane struggles more if the Eagles rely on a game-plan with more passing.

In addition to PFF, this is what amateur scout Tommy Lawlor had to say about Lane's performance against the Redskins:

Solid game. Beaten by Kerrigan on pass play. Didn’t give up, though, and was able to keep him occupied as Vick slipped to the outside. Got confused and failed to block Kerrigan on pass play. Blitzing LB is the one who got the sack, but Kerrigan blew up the play. Johnson has to know to take the guy going to the inside. Lined up on the left side on Shady’s TD run. Had an outstanding block of DT Bowen. Gave Shady a big lane. Generally controlled Kerrigan when he faced him on pass play. Lane also did a good job as a run blocker. You would think a rookie playing in an up-tempo attack and being moved around might struggle, but that wasn’t the case. Still adjusting to pro football and has his moments, but is physically ready.

Lane is still a rookie and that much is obvious, but there's no doubt his potential is high. Thanks to his impressive athleticism, he seems to be the perfect fit for Chip Kelly's offense. It's way too early to say for sure, but it seems possible that the Eagles may have selected the best OT in the draft despite taking the third one.

Hitting on an early draft pick is encouraging for an Eagles organization that missed on some high picks in the past. See: Watkins, Danny.

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