NEW YORK -- One of Lane Johnson's most challenging assignments during his rookie season as a Philadelphia Eagles tackle will be to block New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. But it won't be the first time he's been on the same field as the Big Blue pass rusher. Shortly after being drafted by the Eagles with the No. 4 pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night, Johnson told a story about the first time he saw Pierre-Paul.
Johnson was a backup quarterback at Kilgore Junior College in Texas, and he says his first game in 2008 was against Fort Scott, where Pierre-Paul was playing that season.
"Nobody had ever heard of him," Johnson said. "I remember seeing there was this 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive lineman nobody had ever heard of. But when he ran out on the field and did a backflip, I think everybody kind of knew what he was about."
Johnson didn't seem intimidated about the idea of trying to block Pierre-Paul at the NFL level, offering a technical, chalkboard answer when asked about the ways in which he plans to do it. He also said he'd been hoping to be the Eagles' pick after his pre-draft discussions with new Eagles coach Chip Kelly. He worried for a moment when the Miami Dolphins traded up to No. 3 that he might be headed there instead, but he said he was happy when Miami took Dion Jordan because he'd "had such a good vibe" with Kelly and the Eagles.
"With the fast-paced offense there at Oregon, I think that fits kind of what we did at Oklahoma, up-tempo, over 100 plays a game," Johnson said. "Something they've never seen before in the NFL."
It's thought that Johnson will help with that, since he's known for his athleticism and speed at a position where those have traditionally been luxuries.
And while he's a Texas guy, he knows his new audience. Asked what he knew about Philadelphia, he had a ready answer.
"Obviously they have the best fans," Johnson said. "I know that."