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2022 NFL draft scouting report: Boston College OL Zion Johnson

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Boston College OL Zion Johnson

6-foot-3
312 pounds

Yahoo Sports’ 2022 NFL draft grade

6.05 — possible first-rounder; possible immediate starter

TL;DR scouting report

Stout, phone-booth blocker who can maul opponents best at guard, but he also thrives with smarts and quick processing.

The skinny

A zero-star Rivals recruit in the Class of 2017, Johnson attended Davidson (the only school to recruit him out of high school) originally while pursuing an engineering degree. As a freshman for the Wildcats, he started eight of 11 games in 2017, followed by 11 starts there in 2018. Johnson transferred to Boston College and started seven games but played extensively in all 13, mostly left guard. He moved to left tackle in 2020, starting all 10 games. In 2021, Johnson shifted back to left guard and started 11 games there (with one start at left tackle vs. Virginia Tech). He competed at the Senior Bowl.

Boston College OL Zion Johnson had a strong week at the Senior Bowl. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Boston College OL Zion Johnson had a strong week at the Senior Bowl. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Upside

  • Thick, stout lower body — massive quads and bubble butt

  • Very long, despite lack of height — 34-inch arms allowed him to play OT in college

  • Excellent testing numbers at NFL combine — great numbers across the board

  • Very clean mover with excellent coordination

  • Maintains great pad level and rarely exposes his chest

  • Delivers a blow — potent punch to gain an early edge

  • Engages and sustains blocks well

  • Bullies smaller defenders at the second level

  • Effective in zone-blocking systems

  • Turns his man and opens pretty holes for the run game

  • Patient in his pass sets — uses his technique and doesn’t panic

  • Good, stiff anchor to control his man

  • Identifies stunts and twists and doesn’t get out of position

  • Shrugs off blitzers and can stone them in their tracks

  • Five-position versatility — extensive OT, OG game experience; played center at Senior Bowl

  • Disciplined — only four penalties in nearly 2,300 offensive snaps at BC

  • Interviewed extremely well — regarded as reliable, driven performer

  • Smart, grounded with winning mentality — two-time captain

  • One scouting director called him a “future OL coach in the making”

Downside

  • Athletic-testing numbers didn’t always translate to the field

  • Bottom-10th percentile in height at 6-2 5/8

  • Merely OK working in space

  • Likely a guard-first prospect

  • Struggled vs. speed rushers at left tackle

  • Doesn’t always hit moving targets effectively

  • Must work on reloading pop in his hands after initial contact

  • Snapping at Senior Bowl was inconsistent — center transition could take time

  • Put on skates a few times in one-on-one OL-DL drills in Mobile

  • Can be overwhelmed by ultra-powerful rushers at the point of attack

  • Recovery ability can be hit or miss

  • Mistimes his punch at times and can throw himself off balance

  • Turns 23 years old as a rookie

Best-suited destination

Johnson has played every spot on the offensive line at one time or another, but his best home appears to be at guard. He could be a respectable backup center on game days at some point, we think, and can play tackle in a pinch. But Johnson’s best chance for success appears to be as a left or right guard, offering enough potential as a phone-booth mauler. He projects as a Day 1 starter with a high floor as a prospect.

Did you know

Johnson grew up playing golf and was on the high-school golf team at Riverdale Baptist School (Md.).

Player comp

Ali Marpet

Expected draft range

Top-40 pick