Cleveland Browns: Is Roderick Johnson the left tackle of the future?
Roderick Johnson fits the profile of the type of player the Browns take chances on. He is an extremely athletic player who needs to add bulk and refine technique. In similar vein, this is the exact profile of players like Austin Reiter and Anthony Fabiano.
The move is a gamble. The Browns are taking athletic players gambling that the strength and conditioning staff can get them NFL-ready. They are also gambling that the coaching staff can take these raw athletes and turn them into productive NFL players.
If a coach were to create an ideal left tackle in terms of height, arm length, upper body strength and athleticism, the result would be Roderick Johnson. In this respect, the heir apparent to left tackle makes sense. He looks the part.
The trick for the Browns is to get him to play the part.
Run blocking is a serious strength for Johnson. In fact, to say he is pro-ready as a run blocker is not an exaggeration. He gets serious movement on double teams. He climbs to the second level and destroys linebackers. He will pull and lead around the edge for running backs. There is very little this guy cannot do extremely well as a run blocker.
Conversely, his pass protection is high school ready at best. Johnson is proportionately bad at pass blocking as he is good at run blocking.
Johnson will need to learn the fundamentals of pass blocking from the ground up. His upper body plays out of sync with his lower body. He leans into his pass blocks which allows defenders to use his body weight against him. He fails to set his feet properly which opens him up to power moves like bull rushes. His footwork fundamentals are bad causing him to get off-balance when he is not leaning.
He has not developed as a pass blocker because he has not had to. With his long arms, he has been able to latch on to defenders and lean on them. But the NFL is a whole new world where grab and lean is not effective.
As a pass blocker, Roderick Johnson is a major project. Bob Wylie will need to be patient and start with the most basic of the basic with him. In short, he will need every magic trick he can muster to turn Johnson into a pass blocker.
Anyone have any extra fairy dust?