Arizona Cardinals take OSU offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. after trades

After some wheeling and dealing by the Arizona Cardinals, fans are excited about Paris Johnson, Jr., the No. 6 overall pick.
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 5:33 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 27, 2023 at 6:21 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) -- The pick is finally in — and Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. will be donning an Arizona Cardinals jersey this season. As the Cardinals were on the clock, ESPN insider Ian Rapoport tweeted the Red Birds traded the third overall pick to the Texans and took the 12th pick instead. However, the Cardinals then traded again to get the sixth pick, and decided to add some help to the offense.

Johnson’s arrival gives the Cardinals a potential franchise cornerstone who can protect quarterback Kyler Murray for years to come. “They’ll be getting a guy that is violent, fast and physical,” Johnson said. “Those are the three rules in my game every time I step on the field. They’re getting a great teammate that wants to take care of my quarterback.”

Johnson started all 26 games for the Buckeyes the past two seasons and originally played right guard before moving to left tackle. He is the highest-drafted Ohio State offensive lineman since Orlando Pace in 1997, who went first overall. He received first-team All-Big Ten accolades.

The Cardinals started to shake up the draft when they traded their third and 105th pick this year with the Texans, who gave the Red Birds the 12th and 33rd picks in this year’s draft, plus a first and third-rounder in 2024. Arizona then decided to trade up with Detroit Lions, getting the sixth overall to draft Johnson. The Lions received the 12th overall pick, drafting Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs, and the Cardinals’ 34th and 168th overall pick. The Red Birds also received pick No. 81 as part of the deal. “I’m not going to lie — it was exciting, it was awesome, that was fun,” new general manager Monti Ossenfort Ossenfort said of the flurry of deals. “But I’ll tell you what, I had a lot of help in there.”

Johnson said he knew he might be coming to the Cardinals because his pre-draft interactions with the team went so well. Arizona selected the offensive lineman 24 years after they picked his dad in the fifth round of the 1999 draft. Paris Johnson Sr. — a safety — never played in an NFL game. “I feel like I’m supposed to be here,” Johnson said. “I feel like I’m on this visit to finish what my dad started.”

It wasn’t a surprise the Cardinals moved down from No. 3, especially once the Texans’ sizable offer became public. But the Cardinals’ move back up in the draft less than an hour later caught many be surprise, including Johnson. Since the Detroit Lions were on the clock at No. 6 and he hadn’t talked much with the Lions, Johnson thought it was a good time for a bathroom break. Turns out that’s when the action was getting started. He got a call when he returned. “I’m looking at my mom — ‘Oh snap!’ -- I’m going to Detroit?” Johnson said. “But then it was Mr. Monti saying ‘Hey, it’s the Cardinals, remember what you told me?’”

The Cardinals’ next pick, assuming they don’t make another trade, will be the No. 33 overall pick on Friday, which is the second pick of the evening. They’ll also have the No. 81, No. 94 and No. 96 selections in the third round.

Just minutes before the draft, The Cardinals and Eagles settled a tampering investigation surrounding new head coach Jonathan Gannon, who was Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator. The Eagles traded their 94th pick and a 2024 fifth-round pick for the Cardinals’ 66th pick. ESPN insider Adam Schefter was the first to report it.

Budda Baker and DeAndre Hopkins are among the names on the trade market this offseason. Baker publicly requested a trade from the team. Ossenfort spoke on the captain’s request, mostly keeping tight-lipped. “I think I’ve been clear with how I feel about Budda,” Ossenfort said. Rumors are swirling that Hopkins could join the Chiefs, Ravens or Bills.

The Cardinals have dealt with front office and coaching shakeups in the offseason. After a month of searching, the organization hired Gannon to lead the Red Birds. Under Gannon’s helm for the Eagles, the team had a top-10 defense for two years.

The day after the Cardinals ended the season with a 38-13 loss to the San Francisco Niners, Kliff Kingsbury was let go as head coach. Kingsbury ended his tenure with the Red Birds with a losing record of 28-37-1 and only led the team to one playoff appearance. The Cardinals hired him in 2019, shortly after being fired from Texas Tech. In the offseason, he joined USC as a senior offensive analyst. Former general manager Steve Keim stepped down in January, saying he would be focusing on his health after taking a leave of absence in December. The team finished the 2022 season with a disappointing 4-13 record, ending with a seven-game losing streak. Keim and Kingsbury had previously signed five-year extensions with the team before the decision.

Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said the changes were due to the team’s regression. “I think we got to a point where it was just time to go in a different direction,” Bidwill said in a January press conference. Bidwill interviewed two internal candidates, Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris, for the general manager position but ultimately decided to go for the former Tennessee Titans director of player personnel, Ossenfort. Ossenfort has been working in the NFL in various roles since 2001 with several teams, including the Houston Texans, New England Patriots and the Titans. He is now tasked with rebuilding the team to playoff caliber once again, and says, “ego will not be tolerated.”

Bidwill also dealt with controversy in the offseason. Schefter and The Athletic reported that an ex-Cardinals executive Terry McDonough accused Bidwill of cheating and harassment in 2018. McDonough alleged that he and former head coach Steve Wilks were forced to use burner phones to talk to Keim while Keim was suspended for an extreme DUI. The claim alleged that “Bidwill cursed at, berated, and formally reprimanded McDonough, and ultimately demoted him.” The team aggressively denied the reports, calling the “wildly false, reckless and an opportunistic play for financial gain.”

The team was plagued with injuries last year. Quarterback Kyler Murray suffered a season-ending ACL injury, and it’s unknown when he may get back on the field.