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After Second Trade, Cardinals Pick Up Paris Johnson In First Round

After trading down and then up, Cardinals land tackle at No. 6

An excited Paris Johnson Jr. walks out on stage wearing a Cardinals hat Thursday night in Kansas City after the team made him their first-round pick.
An excited Paris Johnson Jr. walks out on stage wearing a Cardinals hat Thursday night in Kansas City after the team made him their first-round pick.

At the end of Paris Johnson Jr.'s pre-draft visit to Tempe, one of his last stops in the building was to talk with GM Monti Ossenfort.

Johnson, a mountain of a man at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, wasn't the first Paris Johnson to be drafted by the Cardinals. His father, Paris Johnson Sr., was a safety who had been a fifth-round pick of the team in 1999, lasting only a season.

And that, Johnson Jr. told Ossenfort, meant something.

"I want to be here," Johnson told Ossenfort. "I want to be an Arizona Cardinal. I want to finish what my Dad started."

"That really hit me," Ossenfort said Thursday night, after the Cardinals had made the Ohio State offensive lineman their first-round pick in the NFL draft. "I am excited to get him here."

It was a whirlwind of events to get Johnson into the Cardinals' new uniforms – the Cardinals traded back from No. 3 to No. 12 and then back up to No. 6 with the Detroit Lions, but Johnson was the guy.

"I felt it in my heart," Johnson said. "I wanted to express to (Ossenfort) it was like a God thing. I felt like I was on that 30 visit because I'm supposed to finish what my Dad started. I know my family has high expectations, and unfortunately he didn't meet those and 22, 23 years later, God has been preparing me my whole life to do with the Cardinals at that standard." reported that the Falcons likely were going to take Johnson at No. 8, and as badly as Johnson wanted to be a Cardinal, he thought that chance had passed when they traded out of 3. The Raiders (7), Falcons and Bears (9) all could use a tackle.

But Ossenfort swapped places with the Lions, sending along the Cardinals' original second-round pick (34) and their fifth-rounder (168) to Detroit for No. 6 and the Lions' third-rounder (81).

"The first two picks I was chillin'," Johnson said. "As soon as the Cardinals came on the clock, I was staring at my phone the entire fricking time. I was locked in.

"I told my family, 'I feel like I'm going to be a Cardinal. If I'm not I'm going to be a little sad."

Johnson said he went to the bathroom when the Lions were on the clock at 6, thinking he wouldn't go there, and when his phone rang he was stunned, thinking he was headed to Detroit.

"Mr. Monti was on the line, saying it was the Cardinals, saying, 'You remember what you told me?" Johnson said. "I was still trying to process. It was crazy."

Ossenfort wasn't going to commit to Johnson as a rookie starter – "We have a few months to go before we have to play a game," he said – but Johnson did play guard in college as well as tackle and said he was comfortable with either.

The Cardinals currently have D.J. Humphries at left tackle, and either Kelvin Beachum or Josh Jones at right tackle. There is opportunity at guard, but then again, with a new coaching staff, nothing is promised, not even to holdover veterans.

Aside from his football ability – and there are analysts who believe Johnson still is raw and needs developing – Ossenfort noted his football character, intelligence, maturity and dependability.

"You can tell he is made of the right things," Ossenfort said.

He also wanted to be a Cardinal and protect a quarterback like Kyler Murray.

"I'm going to play hard regardless," Johnson said. "But a guy like that who is already established and reached out to a young guy like me … you want to keep him clean."

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