Cards select OT Paris Johnson at No. 6 after multiple trades
By DAVID BRANDT
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Paris Johnson thought he had a few free moments at the NFL draft, so he took a quick bathroom break.
By the time he emerged, he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals selected the Ohio State offensive lineman with the No. 6 overall selection on Thursday night, capping a whirlwind start to the draft for new general manager Monti Ossenfort.
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.”
The move capped an active evening for the Cardinals, who started the night with the No. 3 overall selection but traded it to the Houston Texans for the No. 12 and No. 33 selections in this year’s draft and a first- and third-round pick in next year’s draft.
Ossenfort almost immediately flipped the No. 12 and also sent the No. 34 pick to the Detroit Lions so the Cardinals could select Johnson, who should immediately bolster the offensive line.
“I’m not going to lie - it was exciting, it was awesome, that was fun,” 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 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 started the evening picking in the top 5 after a 2022 season that went about as poorly as possible. Arizona began the season with high hopes, but finished with a 4-13 record, which resulted in the team firing fourth-year coach Kliff Kingsbury and parting ways with GM Steve Keim.
Murray tore the ACL in his right knee late in the season and he's expected to miss at least a few games next fall.
Murray was a fan of Johnson during the draft process. The Ohio State product said Murray pulled him aside during his visit to the Cardinals and told him how much he liked his tape.
“I texted my teammate Luke (Wypler) and I'm like ‘Dude, Kyler knows my first name,’" Johnson said. “I've never met him in my life. From that moment, I was like ‘Woah, this is real.’"
The Cardinals also announced they swapped third-round picks with the Philadelphia Eagles in this year’s draft after the Cardinals had impermissible contact with Jonathan Gannon during their recent coaching search.
Arizona’s third-round pick was originally the No. 66 overall selection, but now it will select at No. 94. The Cardinals will also receive the Eagles’ fifth-round pick as part of the agreement.
The Cardinals said they self-reported that Ossenfort had a phone conversation with Gannon - who was the Eagles’ defensive coordinator - in the days following the NFC championship game, when contact is not permitted under NFL tampering rules.
The Cardinals eventually hired Gannon.
“I made a mistake,” Ossenfort said. “I own that. It's a situation that we were able to resolve. I've apologized to (team owner) Michael Bidwill, I've apologized to our staff."
The Cardinals have 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.
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Updated April 27, 2023