Ranking the Falcons 2014: No. 29 Mike Johnson
I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 29th-ranked player: offensive lineman Mike Johnson.
To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.
Total Score: 48/100
Last year’s rank: 22
Player Grade: 48/100
Teams he is starter: 11 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 1 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 25 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +2
Positional Bonus: +3
Johnson is the highest-ranked Falcon on this list that is firmly on the roster bubble this summer. He will be tasked with competing with the likes of Gabe Carimi and Harland Gunn for what may prove to be one reserve guard spot.
Helping Johnson’s chances is the fact that he’s been somewhat a journeyman on the Falcons depth chart over the years. Originally drafted to be a developmental guard in the third round of the 2010 draft, Johnson has bounced around to offensive tackle the past few years. He’s even received a handful of snaps here and there as a center during his time in Atlanta, making him potentially capable of playing all five roster spots. That certainly adds significant value when it comes to earning a roster spot as a reserve with the Falcons.
Despite receiving limited playing time over the course of four seasons with the Falcons, Johnson earns relatively higher grades than other Falcons blockers thanks to his ability. That is ability that he has not had the good fortune to show on the field due to untimely injuries.
In 2011, while on the verge of beating out Garrett Reynolds for the starting right guard spot, Johnson suffered an injury that allowed Reynolds to take the majority of first-team reps throughout training camp. Johnson then suffered a season-ending injury midway through that season. He came back in 2012 and made the move to tackle to make room for rookie Peter Konz, and eventually served as the team’s sixth lineman and blocking tight end during the regular season.
In 2013, after outworking Lamar Holmes in the offseason to win the starting right tackle spot, Johnson suffered a season-ending injury midway through camp. Who knows whether Johnson would have proven to be a significantly improved option at that spot than Holmes was early in the year.
Johnson should benefit to returning to his more natural position at guard this summer, where his less than ideal athleticism and footwork are far less hindrances. The key for Johnson may simply be staying healthy this summer since he’s mostly been effective when he’s been on the field.
While Johnson is by no means guaranteed a roster spot, all the adversity he’s faced throughout his career might have made him a lot more versatile than other options the Falcons could choose, ultimately earning him a job for another year.