Editor’s note: This was written before P.J. Johnson was placed on the Active/Non-Football Injury list late last week. Because Johnson could still come off the list at any time, we decided to publish it anyways. UPDATE: Johnson was taken off the NFI list on Monday.
The Detroit Lions chose to add to their already deep collection of interior defensive linemen with their final selection of the 2019 NFL Draft when they selected Arizona’s P.J. Johnson in the seventh round.
Johnson seems to fit exactly what head coach Matt Patricia wants his defensive tackles to be able to do upfront. At 6-4, 334 pounds, the rookie can eat up a ton of space on the interior and make it tough for offenses to find room to run up the middle. While he is as unathletic as they come, he definitely possesses the physical profile needed to play a similar role to that of Damon Harrison Sr. and A’Shawn Robinson.
As a seventh-round pick, the rookie’s spot on the 53-man roster is not guaranteed. The Lions have a lot of depth at defensive tackle at the moment and Johnson could be expendable. A good training camp and preseason could force Detroit to hold on to him, though, and with Robinson set for a pay day soon, Johnson could take the first steps to replacing him at a discount.
The Arizona product should not expect to play a significant role on the team this season. If he does make the roster, he will be buried on the depth chart behind two players who are very similar in play style.
Johnson is most likely set to end up on the team’s practice squad to start the 2019 season, but he has potential to steal a roster spot with a good enough showing this summer.