Oh, hello there. I didn't see you come in. - Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Wesley Johnson started 51 straight games for the Commodores and only gave up two sacks in his final two years on campus. So why is this do-everything lineman not generating more interest before the 2014 NFL Draft?
Position: Offensive Tackle. And Offensive Guard. And occasionally Center.
Size: 6'5", 297 lbs.
Recruit Ranking: A three-star offensive lineman. Johnson was the highest-rated recruit of Bobby Johnson's 2009 class.
2013 (and beyond) Statistics: 51 consecutive starts. 61 knockdown blocks and 27 intimidation blocks in 2013. Just two sacks allowed in the past two seasons.
• 2013 First Team All-SEC (Coaches) • 2013 Second Team All-SEC (AP, Athlons & Phil Steele) • 2013 SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week (Oct. 19) • 2013 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List • 2013 Outland Trophy Watch List • 2012 All-SEC Honorable Mention (AP) • 2012 SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week (Nov. 3) • Outland Award Watch List • 2010 SEC All-Freshman team
Strengths: Johnson is the most consistent, most effective, and most important offensive lineman that the Commodores have had in the modern era. He's suffered through a two-win season and celebrated during a pair of nine-win seasons while playing outstanding football through all of them. At a time when Vandy's offensive line was cut down by turnover and a lack of depth, Johnson stepped up to turn a young group of players into a cohesive unit and allowed guys like Zac Stacy, Jordan Matthews, and Jordan Rodgers to shine on offense.
Johnson didn't earn a holding call in his career until halfway through his senior season. Referees aren't perfect and neither is Johnson, but that's still a pretty impressive statistic. Over the past two seasons, he's been credited with giving up just two sacks despite primarily playing left tackle and protecting Rodgers, Austyn Carta-Samuels, and Patton Robinette's blindsides. The senior stalwart took on some of the best defensive linemen in the NCAA and often dispatched them as Vanderbilt's offense went through a revival in 2012 and 2013.
Johnson showed off solid athleticism at the NFL Combine as well. His broad jump and 3-cone drill numbers each rated out in the top five of all linemen and put him alongside projected first round picks like Greg Robinson and Taylor Lewan. He's a high character player who understands the game well and can be utilized as a Swiss Army Knife in the trenches. He engages at the line of scrimmage and finishes his blocks well, often securing the edge - though Vandy frustratingly avoided running on the outside in 2013 despite their effectiveness there in limited carries.
Weaknesses: Johnson isn't particularly huge or freakishly athletic. He doesn't have anything on paper that will make scouts start salivating. He's still got room to get bigger - he's up from 235 pounds as a high schooler and up from 290 pounds as a junior - but it's unlikely he'll ever be a massive NFL lineman.
His success in college came as much from hard work as it did from physical gifts. While he's a solid athlete who should be successful at the next level, he may not have the extra gear that some scouts are looking for in an early draft pick.
Projection: Fourth to seventh round pick. Johnson is a versatile, hard-working, and intelligent lineman with a high floor but a limited ceiling as a football player. He may find himself passed over for players with more potential in the middle rounds, but his NFL-ready style of play will make him a third-day gem for a team with holes up front. Johnson has a stellar reputation amongst Vandy fans, but he's a bit of an unknown outside of Nashville. He'll change all that if he can bring the same kind of dedication and production he did to Vanderbilt into the NFL.
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