The Bears made some steps in the right direction to re-building the offensive line specifically at the offensive tackle position. The Bears in back to back draft have quite possibily found their bookend tackles for the next 10 years with 2010 7th round pick J'Marcus Webb and this year first round draft pick Wisconsin standout Gabe Carimi. Despite possibly solving the tackle situation, the interior line is still a hot mess and is desperate for young talent. Roberto Garza has been a serviceable starter for years for this club, but he physically can't hold up anymore and Chris Williams just doesn't seem built to play inside.
The Bears are desperate for young talent on the offensive line so enter Herman Johnson; the Cardinals 5th round draft pick from 2009 who the Bears plucked off their practice squad. The 6-7 360 pound mammoth guard is under today's player spotlight.
Who is Herman Johnson?
From 2004 to 2008, Herman Johnson played his college career at Louisiana State University. The highlight of his career there came in 2007 where he was part of an LSU high power offense that was one of the main reason they won the National Championship. He spent his final year at LSU before being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the #167 pick of the 5th round in the 2009 NFL Draft. Although Johnson was inactive for all of 16 games his first seasson, Arizona Cardinals head Coach Ken Whisenhunt and Offensive Line coach Russ Grimm was high on Johnson and was grooming him to be starting his second year either at RT or OG. Johnson would find himself on Arizona practice squad in 2010 mainly because he came into camp overweight. The Bears towards the end of the season plucked him off Arizona practice squad.
Possibly the largest player in college football, one might suspect Johnson is a dominant football player because he can block just about anything with his massive girth -- perhaps even sunlight. He shows surprising athleticism along with his size and strength, and teamed with left tackle Cirron Black to give LSU as formidable a left side along the line as any team in the country. In fact, while LSU's talented skill position players received much of the attention last season for the Tigers' offensive production in winning the national title, the play of the offensive line played a huge role. Johnson was such a force last season that his play led SEC coaches to vote him First Team all-conference in his first season as the full-time starter. Had an arm span of 36 1/2 inches and a hand span of 11 3/8 inches at the combine.
Positives: Naturally massive man who looks to be in reasonable shape. Good initial quickness off the snap despite his size. Gives the defensive tackle a formidable jolt with his hand punch and settles into position. Generally plays with good leverage and has the upper body strength to extend his arms and keep the pass rusher at bay. Surprising lateral quickness and balance for a player his size. Alert pass blocker who keeps his head on a swivel. Good straight-ahead drive blocker. Gains movement on his initial surge and has the hand placement and strength to turn defenders from the hole. Slow to get to the second level, but gives good effort and is a such a huge diversion, he can effectively block defenders from the ballcarrier without making the play. Negatives: Only has one season of starting experience and teamed with left tackle Cirron Black, a legitimate NFL talent in his own right, to anchor the left side. Can improve his sustaining of blocks. Can get fundamentally lazy and attempt to latch on to defenders, rather than moving his feet, making him susceptible to coverage sacks. Has struggled with weight issues in the past -- arrived at LSU at more than 400 pounds.
The 1st challenge for the Johnson is to show up to camp in shape and ready to go. Johnson has struggle with weight issues dating back to college, so if he shows up to camp in shape it will show coaches that he's dedicated and wants to be in position to get a starting job on the line. His best chance at getting that starting job might be at one of the guard spots. From the outside looking in, Williams just doesn't seem like a favorite of Tice and Tice last summer flirted with the possibility of fielding a starting 5 without Garza in it. What's also working in Johnson favor is that he's a prototypical Mike Tice OL at 6-7 360 pounds and is very athletic for his size. The realistic expectations for Herman Johnson are if he's not a starter on the line than at worst he's a versatile back-up at both OG spots and RT.