16 Aug Preseason Scouting Notes: Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College
Senior | 6’3” 310 lbs | Bowie, MD
A strong, mobile interior finisher with a ferocious temperament who needs to work on his football intelligence and anticipation
Zion Johnson initially committed to Davidson as a 0-star recruit and became a starter in his true freshman season. As a sophomore, Johnson was named First Team All-Conference, and decided to transfer to Boston College for the remainder of his collegiate career to pursue an NFL career. In his first year at BC, Johnson only started 7 games, but played in all 13 and played about half of the snaps in games he didn’t start. As the left guard on a talented, power-heavy offensive line, Johnson was asked to pull often and was tasked frequently with getting to the second level on combo blocks. With a new head coach and OL coach in tow for BC, Johnson will be learning yet another new system in his senior season.
– Heavy-handed initial punch jars defenders
– Starts low in his stance and maintains good leverage at the POA to get under DLs pads
– Gets a good vertical push as a run blocker due to good block temperament and explosive hip roll
– Sets a hard anchor with a wide base and good knee/ankle bend. Complemented by his upper body strength, his anchor ability is the best part of his game
– Very mobile laterally on pulls and screens
– Gets to the second level with quickness on combo blocks to create easy openings for ball carriers
– Plays with great finish and will look for new work even after finishing his defender
Areas to improve:
– Tends to charge at second and third level defenders with his shoulders far in front of his body, resulting in a loss of balance
– While he has the mobility to get to defenders in space on time, he often misses his blocks due to issues with changing direction in space and anticipation of the defender’s next move. Saps some of his effectiveness as a puller
– Doesn’t bring versatility to the OL. Has only played LG to this point
– Can be slow to process and doesn’t anticipate slant rush moves and stuns
– Accuracy on his initial punch has room for improvement. Gets wide at times and has not shown the ability to re-fit his hands when he misses his target
Due to Johnson’s combination of mobility, anchor strength, and explosive hip roll, he will fit as a guard in any scheme. While he doesn’t have much experience as a zone blocker at this point, he would fit into a zone scheme seamlessly due to his impressive lateral agility. Johnson still needs to work on staying balanced at the second level and must improve on his stunt anticipation before becoming an NFL starter, but the tools are there for him to reach that level by his second year in the league. Expect Johnson to be a late Day 2 or early Day 3 selection in the 2021 draft.
What to watch in 2020:
How quickly will Johnson acclimate into his third scheme in as many years? With new head coach Jeff Hafley coming over from Ohio State and Towson’s Matt Applebaum taking over the OL coach duties, Johnson will likely have a new set of expectations and responsibilities. One of those expectations should be to start every game. And that additional starting experience should give a more clear picture of how NFL ready Johnson will be as a rookie.