The War Room: Ben Johnson, OT, Wisconsin
Birthday: April 7, 1980
Strengths: Cousins Ben Johnson and Al Johnson have little in common with their pharmaceutical namesake. While one Johnson & Johnson promises to alleviate pain, the other promises to inflict it. Ben is the bigger of the two, and he is a punishing run blocker that opened big holes for a Badger ground attack that averaged 176 yards per game in 2001.
Big and strong, Johnson uses his long arms to keep defenders at bay. He is an Outland Trophy candidate with a lot of confidence in his ability following two seasons of vast improvement. Rock solid, he missed only one snap in 2001. The Badgers have a history of big linemen and strong running games as the school has a streak of nine consecutive seasons producing a 1,000-yard rusher. Johnson should help continue that legacy for a tenth season.
Areas for Concern: Johnson is not very athletic, and he can be beaten by quicker pass rushers. He lacks mobility to play the left tackle spot in the NFL, which will be the spot he plays this fall at Wisconsin. Johnson can be beaten in pass blocking because his feet just aren’t quick enough.
Johnson was also part of a large Badger contingent, which included CB Jamar Fletcher and WR Chris Chambers, that was suspended for three games in 2000 for receiving benefits not available to other clients of more than $500 from a local shoe store. Johnson has hopefully learned better judgment in the years since the incident.
How Would He Look in Steel Blue? A beefy offensive lineman who can create rushing lanes will capture the interest of the Texans. Johnson’s inability to play left tackle will damage his draft status, but he is versatile enough to have value on the Texans’ roster. He has a future at right tackle in the NFL and may even be able to play on the inside, too.
Johnson has aspirations of being selected in the first round, and for good reason. According to his head coach, Barry Alvarez, Johnson is a better prospect than Chris McIntosh, a first round selection of Seattle in 2000. But compared with the impressive center play of his smaller cousin, there’s question as to whether he’s even the best Johnson on the Badger line. Should either Johnson slip out of the first round in 2003, the Texans may give some serious thought to taking one of them on the draft’s first day.
(profile written by Keith Weiland)
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