Dorian Johnson, starting and rookies

Posted by Darren Urban on May 1, 2017 – 2:40 pm

Reading through some of the draft grades (and draft grades would be a whole different post for me, but like mocks, people eat them up, so …), I saw it suggested more than once that fourth-round guard Dorian Johnson might start right away, or at least sooner rather than later. To which I’m thinking it’s difficult to see that happening.

I’m not saying it won’t. Maybe Evan Boehm struggles that much at right guard and Johnson overtakes him. Maybe Johnson is a savant. Maybe playing a lot more pro-style offense will put him so far ahead of the curve. But offensive line coach (and offensive coordinator) Harold Goodwin hasn’t been keen on starting inexperienced guys up front when he has a choice.

Yes, Jonathan Cooper had been on track to start at left guard as a rookie in 2013 before he broke his leg. But Bobby Massie, who actually had a couple of years under his belt, was benched in favor of Eric Winston at right tackle in 2013. In 2015, Massie was always going to start at right tackle ahead of D.J. Humphries. Boehm never really had a shot at the starting center last year.

It’s hard to see any of the rookies starting right away. That doesn’t mean they don’t figure to play. Special teams will use many of them. And, as of now, I do see Haason Reddick and Budda Baker playing important defensive roles (although at this time last year, the Cardinals were planning on Robert Nkemdiche getting 30 snaps a game on defense, so there’s that.) Johnson’s potential seems to me the one draftee who has a chance — and again, I don’t see it as much of a chance. Who knows? There’s always a possibility they go through the offseason with options as a starter but decide to sign a veteran in camp to be the guy — like the Shipley/Larson-to-Sendlein situation in 2015.

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41 Responses to “Dorian Johnson, starting and rookies”

  1. By erik on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    Is Shipley that entrenched at center? To my untrained eye, Boehm played pretty well against good competition last year, granted that was at RG not center. In a perfect world, Dorian Johnson will be amazing and start at RG and Boehm can take over for Shipley. I have to imagine the Cards wanted Boehm to win that spot by his second year, anyways.

  2. By mal on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    When they announced earlier this spring that Boehm was our starting RG, I went back and re-watched the final 2 games of 2016 just to see how he held up, cuz he played most of game 15 and started 16.

    Against 2 tough defenses on the road (Rams + Seattle) I was surprised how well he played. His first snap from scrimmage was a false start (any nerves, rookie?) and he got beat bad once on a bull rush by Aaron Donald, but other than that he did really fine. He needs to keep working on stunts, but he was aware of them.

    Our weakest link by far — the guy who kept letting pressure to get to Palmer — was Earl Watford. And Wetzel at LT had a few struggles, but that would be expected. And we won both games.

    If Boehm can someday move to C and slide Dorian Johnson into RG, that could be sweet, but with Watford gone and the return of Humphrey and Veldheer, our starting OL right now doesn’t worry me.

  3. By mitchaz on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    Good points and questions, Darren.

    The fact that the Cardinals have an extra week of TC this year, plus an extra pre-season game would give a talented rookie like Dorian Johnson a chance to work his way into the starting lineup.

    Of course, much of it depends on whether the Cardinals want to stick with Evan Boehm at guard. Physically, Dorian Johnson is better suited to play RG than Evan Boehm.

  4. By JTDG on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    Like Dorian Johnson and I think the reason people push him to the starting line up is because RG has been a hole in the cards line.

    It’s like some people thinking Rudy the 7th rounder could win the CB2 spot because there isn’t much there.

    Johnson has talent. He will be a starter at some point. But I really would not be surprised if these two picks (Johnson and Holdin)are picks to see if they can take Veldheer and Iupati’s spots next year as both are 10 million a year and could save 13 million in cap if released.

  5. By Darren Urban on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Clarifying

    Rudy Johnson is a sixth-round pick.

  6. By JTDG on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    Remember Character was the big buzz word for the draft. I just read this about our 3rd round pick.

    Williams ran into legal troubles in the offseason before his senior year. He was charged with marijuana possession and possession of firearms after LSU campus police checked out a parked vehicle in which he sitting.

    Ummmm…. Drugs and a gun??? Come on man.. What gives? Any info on this Darren??

  7. By Darren Urban on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Williams info

    Uh, yeah.

  8. By Jacob Hewitt on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    I think the Cardinals would look at the QB Jerod Evans his highlight looked pretty good and he may have a good chance to QB when Palmer retires and they would not have to pay him a lot. I think he would be honored to play for any NFL team and he is good he just needs a bit of training.

  9. By Austen on May 1, 2017 | Reply


    Was DWash at phase 2 workouts? Is he technically allowed to do that stuff? Thanks man!

  10. By Darren Urban on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    Austen —

    RE: Washington

    I expect the team to meet with Washington first as the next step, at some point.

  11. By shannon robinson on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    Darren, A Tip of the Cardinals’ Wing to you and your team of Journalists. I felt like I was given an inside track on many of the decisions made by the Scouts and Front Office Personnel throughout the Draft process. The interviews were priceless. Excellent stage presence, production dramatics, and the visuals put me at the Complex meeting the Insiders! Bruce promised the Draft would be fun and it was. Here we go. Hooty Who!

  12. By casht1874 on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    Williams charges were dropped. One of the firearms was an AK-47, so if he didn’t get any time for that then it was just being in wrong place wrong time type of situation. He attended Grambling, not LSU so being a football player had nothing to do with it..LOL

  13. By Jacob Hewitt on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    Hey guys check out these links and see if y’all see people Jerod Evans could pass to
    Here is Jerod Evans
    Here are people I think remind me of his passes And also These plays
    Check me out I think Evan would be a good fit in Arizona for when Palmer retires

  14. By crowe on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    mettenburger is on waivers?? i think if anyone could maximize his potential it would be this staff!!

  15. By Patrick on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    Darren, question that probably won’t be answered but hoping you could ask. BA said around march 31 only 1qb in this draft was ready to play right away. Now that draft is over, who was that 1qb?

  16. By Darren Urban on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    Patrick —

    RE: QB

    I will see but he may not be willing to say.

  17. By Jon Elder on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    I think if we start the same offensive line that started last year we will have problems. It wasn’t just injuries that were the issue with that O-line.

    Palmer, perhaps more than any other signal caller in the league, requires solid protection. It changes his whole game.

    Not saying these rookies are ready to start, but we need something different than the status quo or we are in for another long season and Palmer is in for more pain.

  18. By georgiebird on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    On your appraisal of Dorian Johnson having only a slight chance of starting. Did I miss something last year-how many guys on the OL are All Pro caliber ?
    Of course Johnson has a chance of starting on this OL- if he’s decent, he can be a starter.

  19. By Darren Urban on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Johnson

    I stand by my analysis.

  20. By JTDG on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    So, wait…. This is crazy to me…

    DWash’s character is bad. Conley is bad. Joe Mixon is bad and so is Caleb Brantley.

    The cards are letting guys like Swearinger walk because of Character. We want guys with good character they say. The cards are going to make sure we don’t make mistakes like Nkemdiche. We are bringing in Dansby and Bethea to help lead.

    Got it. High character guys.

    Oh wait, he runs a 4.3 forty at 6’1 and 210 pounds and can catch. AHHH who cares he had an AK-47 and drugs. Draft him.

  21. By Don on May 1, 2017 | Reply

    I have thought the same thing, that Dorian has best chance at winning a spot but it is still slim. Boehm at r guard this year while Dorian learns then Boehm takes C next year and Dorian RG. I think we will have a good D this year but if all goes well we have a monster D in 18.

  22. By Rick on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    My bet is he gets to to play. Last man up.

  23. By clssylssy on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    According to AzSports, Vegas is giving us about the same season we had last season (< .500) even after the draft. Hopefully this means we will work to be better than expected!
    Do we know who will take Stump Mitchell's job yet or if there will be anymore changes/additions to the coaching staff?

  24. By Darren Urban on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    Clssy —

    RE: Coaching changes

  25. By Dr. G. on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    …Trevor Knight? QB? BA needed another body to make the camp work for all the receivers, etc. Knight comes with good rep and brains, but he has no shot at an NFL slot considering scrutiny by the pro analysts. And, he won’t get the fair coaching time needed to develop.

    Our draft brings good potential, but praying we aren’t a couple mild QB injuries from a mediocre season again. Somehow, I keep thinking Keim and BA think of QBs like RBs…they shouldn’t go early in the draft…? You need to keep panning every year until the gold nugget appears… Job security is tied to your QBs!

    Later, Cards Fans..

  26. By Coach K on May 2, 2017 | Reply


    Johnson is so far ahead of any rookie lineman in this draft, I have no doubt he will start at right guard when the season begins. He is simply that good. Period.

  27. By Coach K on May 2, 2017 | Reply


    Steelers released Mettenburg. Is he a possibility for camp invite?

    Any thoughts on why this 25 year old has been shuffled around so many

  28. By Darren Urban on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    Coach K —

    RE: Mettenburger

    My guess is that he’s not very good.

  29. By Scott H on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    Darren –

    I swear, I cringe at the sound of you saying you don’t expect to see ANY of the rookies starting right away. Ugh. Really? Again??? I mean, where our first round picks are concerned??

    Hey, if Reddick is not starting right away because the guys we already have on the roster are just better, then….OK. That is not a tragedy. But if this kid ISN’T making a significant contribution by, say, the mid-point of the season….I mean, another first round pick by the Cardinals who just can’t seem to find his way onto the field is NOT gonna go over well with the fans.

  30. By Darren Urban on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Starting

    There’s a difference between not starting the first week and not starting at all and not contributing at all.

    But let’s take a look: Dorian Johnson, rookie OL? Don’t see it with Goodwin. Not in September. Reddick over Dansby? probably not. Baker over Bethea? Probably not. Not in September.

    I do expect rookies, especially Reddick and Baker, to play a lot. Even early. But start? They’ve got a long way to go.

  31. By shooter28 on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    Dorian Johnson was one of the best top ranked OGs in the draft, he had a 2nd round grade & both Mike Manock/Daniel Jeremiah had him going in the early 2nd round!! Johnson is a massive man at 6″5/305pds with 35 1/4in long arms, he is both an excellent pass protector who is a very polished technician in the pass blocking game & is an excellent mauler of a run blocker!!! Johnson also comes out of a Pro-Style offense.
    I think Dorian Johnson is going to start over Boehm because one Boehm is smaller, Johnson is a lot bigger at 6″5 with tackle arm length and is a Natural OG while Boehm is not , he is a natural Center. As long as Johnson picks up the offense I would bet money he starts over Boehm, Johnson very talented with a super high pro bowl ceiling

  32. By shooter28 on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    Are you talking about Rookie WR Chad Williams?? If you are , you have the facts wrong. Williams went home for a College break and was hanging out with kids he grew up with who ended up having weed & a gun in their car, Williams did not know their was weed or a gun in the gun and neither belonged to Williams…… He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, he has never had a failed drug test before in his college career. If the drugs/gun were Williams, Keim never would of drafted him.

    As for Robert Nkimdiche, what he did wasn’t that big of a deal at all. Nkimdiche was in College and got drunk/smoked Weed, when the cops came he tried climbing out the window and ended up falling….. Its not like he is a criminal or felon or some super bad kid menace to society type of guy……. Since coming to AZ while being test multiple times a month Nkimdiche has been nothing but a model citizen.

  33. By creditcard on May 2, 2017 | Reply

    I read on Revenge of the Birds, that the Cards have interest in Blaine Gabbert. Mr. win one (1) game and lose four (4), yes, a 1:4 ratio. Gabbert has been nothing less than a complete disappointment in the NFL.

    The Cards have no interest in Cutler? Why?

    Running back Blount is available as is a handful of DE (Williams) and CB’s — I think all can be picked up at great bargains.

    Gabbert? Why?

  34. By JTDG on May 2, 2017 | Reply


    First, I’m Ok with taking guys who might not be choir boys but don’t say you want high character and then try to sell me this.

    If it was his friends, um …. he needs better friends.

    I know, he was in the wrong place , wrong time like Ray Lewis at the Super Bowl. It was his boys who did wrong, but I’m just in the wrong place. Got it.

    It also goes towards his character. Not great character to be hanging out and driving around with guys who have guns and drugs.

    Either you draw a line in the sand and say I want character guys or not. Don’t talk the talk and then choose Nkemdiche and Williams.

    If we are good with taking those with questions, we should have taken Conley at 13.

  35. By CardsNation on May 2, 2017 | Reply


    You should do a better research on this, it’s not what you think it is.. Plus the charges were dismissed and this incident taught him a lesson.

  36. By Scott H on May 3, 2017 | Reply

    Cutler, Gabbert, what’s the difference? We’re not winning ANYTHING with either of them. Give me Drew Stanton over either of them.

  37. By Kevin S Mesa on May 3, 2017 | Reply

    When you put it in terms of “Reddick over Dansby,” OK, I understand how that likely won’t happen week 1.

    But I guess I don’t understand why so many other teams’ first round picks are making huge impacts from the get-go, and ours are not. OK, I understand why Cooper didn’t — he broke his leg. And Nkemdiche was late in the 1st round, so we can’t expect the same from him as from a top-10 guy… but…

    Here are some guys picked in the general vicinity of Riddick (#13) in last year’s draft:

    #10 OA Eli Apple… began as slot corner, had 4 tackles in opener, started last 10 games as outside corner.

    #11 OA Vernon Hargreaves… allowed a ton of yards, but that happens when you play Atlanta and New Orleans twice. Played a ton, though, and flashed at times.

    #12 OA Sheldon Rankinds… broke fibula and missed a lot of time; struggled when returning.

    #13 OA Laremy Tunsil … solid starter most of the season.

    #14 OA Karl Joseph… consistent presence in the Raiders’ secondary. graded out as one of the top rookies.

    #15 OA Corey Coleman… hard to evaluate given the Browns’ QB situation, but not a notable rookie season.

    #16 OA Taylor Decker…starter from the beginning, solid season.

    #17 OA Keanu Neal… significant impact, all-rookie team.

    #18 OA Ryan Kelly… immediate starter at center, solid.

    That’s 9 guys drafted within a few picks of where we drafted Riddick, several of whom were instant starters and almost all of whom (injury aside) were starting after just a few games if they weren’t the starter from the get-go.

    Again. I understand that the situation may be dictated to an extent by who the guy is in front of you. (E.g., Nkemdiche wasn’t necessary last year because Calais played so well.) And I also realize that the three years after the Cooper pick, we were drafting late in the first round. But even late 1st round picks on most teams are playing more than ours. (Humphries never saw the field if I recall; Nkemdiche played one of the lowest number of snaps of any first-rounder last year, and the guys below him were all injured for most of the year I think.)

    Is it too much to expect a #13 OA pick to be a starter?

  38. By Scott H on May 3, 2017 | Reply

    Kevin –

    OK, I see that you picked up on my concerns. And, yeah, I have the same general question you do – why do our first round picks basically disappear and have no impact during their rookie seasons ( when so many other teams DO get an impact from their picks )? And is it too much to expect that a player taken at #13 be a starter in year one?

    Completely valid questions.

  39. By Scott H on May 3, 2017 | Reply

    Darren –

    OK, I hear you. Let’s just stick with Reddick and the “tiers” you presented in your reply.

    Not starting the first week – OK, not a tragedy if that doesn’t happen. If Reddick is staring over Dansby at that point, then Reddick is either a helluva player or Dansby is clearly nowhere near what we expected.

    Not starting at all – No, absolutely NOT acceptable. That is Nkemdiche territory. A first round LB who does not start at some point in year one is a disappointment.

    Not contributing at all – DEFINITELY NOT ACCEPTABLE. A first round LB who does not contribute at all during year one is a failed pick. Period.

    I just want to see him mixing in at least a little from the beginning, getting more time as we go, and getting significant playing time / making an impact during the 2nd half of the season. If there is a significant injury, he needs to be able to fill in and hold his own. As Kevin states, if we can’t expect that from a player taken at #13…..then something is wrong.

  40. By Scott H on May 3, 2017 | Reply

    Wow, speaking of our man, Reddick, here’s something pretty cool – I’m watching the 6 o’clock news out here and literally just two minutes ago, they ran a story about Reddick making an appearance today at Penn Charter Middle School in Philly and talking to the kids, giving an inspiring presentation about believing in yourself, working hard, and seeing that it can lead you to where you want to be in life ( in his case, just drafted by an NFL team and about to start his career as a pro athelete ).

    This area seems to love this kid and I think they are honestly more excited about him than who the Eagles took in the first round! He definitely got more applause at the draft, there was no doubt about that!

  41. By clssylssy on May 5, 2017 | Reply

    Scott, Kevin, & others…
    I hear your concern but all remember that our playbook is considered “complicated” and difficult to master. So, bearing the difficulty of the learning process in mind, I am willing to see how this plays out and give Reddick and the others a little wiggle room (I knowl, BIG SHOCKER coming from “the critic”. In addition to the depth chart, it’s a major transition going from college to the pros, and would be surprised to see anyone start week 1. I do think that we will see some of these guys finding their niche, in the not to late future and veterans like Dansby, Bethea being used more in subpackages or specialized plays. It will be amazing if we can get some veterans in other areas to help fill out and lead the way.

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