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Road to the Draft: Paris Johnson Jr.'s athleticism and versatility make him a prime offensive line prospect

Ohio State offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. has a lot in common with Raiders offensive tackle Thayer Munford Jr.

It begins with them hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, being heavily recruited out of high school as top offensive linemen in the state. They both chose to take their talents to Ohio State, where they played alongside each other for two seasons. In their time as Buckeyes, they amassed an 18-3 record, with a CFB National Championship appearance in 2020.

Johnson, who was Consensus All-American and First Team All-Big Ten in 2022, is projected to be the first offensive tackle from Ohio State to be drafted in the first round since 2016.

"I made the decision to go to Ohio State [because] I knew the development, I loved the family vibe up there. ... I knew that Ohio State could give me everything I wanted to be three and out, if I did everything right," Johnson, who declared for the draft following his junior season, said. "It wasn't going to come easy, and it wasn't something where if I stepped back and waited it would've happened naturally. But Ohio State gave me opportunities, and it gave me the opportunity to do with it as I pleased."

Another comparison between Johnson and Munford is their versatility. Johnson played across the offensive line in college, transitioning from right guard to left tackle. He's played snaps at every single offensive line position besides center in college, and is willing to play whatever position his new NFL coaches see fit.

"I want to be a part of the best five," said Johnson. "If I've got to run out and snap and be the center, I'll do it. That's just how I wanted to play. I feel like, for me, I'm natural a tackle, but at the same time, it took time and it took all those spring practices, time at the fall camp. ... I'm coming in on odd days when no one is coming in to do that extra work. So that's the things behind the scenes outside of scheduled practice that helped me get to get there."

"I think the fact I played a year at right guard and a year at left tackle just shows the versatility and my ability to pick up a new position, and also my willingness to do so."

At the NFL Combine, Johnson delivered with a 9-foot-2 broad jump and 29 reps on bench press. He can also boast being trained by former Cincinnati Bengals All-Pro tackle Willie Anderson since high school. The Raiders could be interested in the tackle with their No. 7 pick, as Johnson has the confidence in himself to prove he's the best offensive lineman in the draft.

"My athleticism, I feel, is unmatched in the country," he said. "My ability to move my feet and my ability to cover my opponent. ... My feet can cover anybody and that's just how I feel. I grew up in church so I did a lot of dancing, but I feel like I have good feet."

View photos of draft prospects at the 2023 NFL Combine whom top analysts are predicting the Raiders may pick at No. 7.

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