Is Zion Johnson Now A First-Round Target?

March 14th, 2022

Alex Cappa’s replacement? (Yeah, Cappa has relocated.)

Anyone who has listened to an interview of Boston College guard/center Zion Johnson walks away crazy impressed.

He’s one of the best young speakers Joe has ever heard coming out of the draft.

That’s no a reason to draft the 6-3, 312-pound guard/center beast in the first round, but it does let you know teams will be smitten by the guy. On the field, he can move, and his unique, bottom-heavy and wide frame looks like it will add serious man weight in the NFL.

The dude is a powerful blocker and a legit first-round talent who also has trained at center.

Now that Bucs right guard Alex Cappa has been lost to the Bengals in free agency, Joe is thinking right guard is a spot where the Bucs may roll with a rookie starter. After all, the rookie would be sandwiched by a Pro Bowl center and a Pro Bowl right tackle. And if it’s Johnson, he might be better than Cappa. Yeah, Joe typed it.

The best way to keep Tom Brady for 2023 (not a typo) is to have the greatest offensive line in football. Drafting Johnson could be a huge and affordable step in that direction.

Would Johnson be available at No. 27 overall, where the Bucs are slotted? Great question. Joe has seen him mocked from No. 21 to No. 32.

60 Responses to “Is Zion Johnson Now A First-Round Target?”

  1. mark2001 Says:

    Don’t think so Joe… my feeling is either a DE, DT, or WR.

  2. Goatfarmer Says:

    Joes – love that dude. Definitely, if he is there at 27 you don’t hesitate. Might even move up a few to get him. Being from BC he has to be at least partially soaked in Tom Brady lore.

    But, first things first. Let’s start seeing the restructured contract announcements! Stat!

  3. mark2001 Says:

    Whichever we don’t strengthen in FA. We may need to replace Godwin after this year, after all.

  4. SKBucsFan Says:

    I’d be very happy with that pick. But the draft is deep for both lines. Would be nice to get the Jets two second rounders for our first. May have to sweeten the deal for that to happen though.

  5. New England Patriots Fan Says:

    DE or WR first round. Weapons and Pass Rush are most important Non-QBs.

  6. Bird Says:

    Agree. You have to keep brady up right. These next few days would be telling
    If that guard dropped in out lap , you have to take him

    4 top issues : guard / def tackle / db/ Third receiver (as godwin may moss a few games)

  7. mark2001 Says:

    Hainsey, Hutcherson, and Stinnie can get the job done, I believe.

  8. Cobraboy Says:

    He’s my #1 pick, An instant starter, a guy that makes the right side of the OL one of the best for years.

    A rare talent that would make Bucs fans forget Cappa (who I wish very well and all the best.)

    I like drafting top Big Uglies early and often. They aren’t flashy, but teams win in the trenches. The pretty boys make headlines off Big Ugly sweat and blood.

  9. Francisco Guzman Says:

    What about hainsey? Is he capable?

  10. Buc92’ Says:

    Stinnie will take cappa spot , trade for lael collins at LG … Draft Tre Burks at 27 , remember Godwin will be out at first Brady needs targets 6’3 225 4.5 40yd… Makes to much sense


  11. mark2001 Says:

    Francisco… I think Hainsey will be the rotational and eventually permanent center. Stinnie and Hutcherson will play Guard. Would like to see us draft another guy, just not first round.

  12. Allbuccedup Says:

    He played left guard a BC thats what we need.

  13. Marine Buc Says:

    CB, WR, DL, RB, OG – best player available at #27.

  14. mark2001 Says:

    92’… I’m seeing what you do. Don’t know about the trade, but if Johnson can’t step up, and Godwin gets dinged or injured, would be nice to have another guy with his talent step up and fill his shoes better than we did last year.

  15. sasquatch Says:

    I don’t think Cappa’s loss means they need to draft OL in round 1. I think Z. Johnson may have been interesting to them all along, at least once Marpet retired.

    They have guys they’ve been developing and I am not worried about the OL. Ideally, if they draft a guy, he ought to be a G/T swing guy who could be more effective at tackle than Wells so we don’t collapse if one of our starting tackles is out.

  16. Casual Observer Says:

    Francisco – Good question. Why not try Hainsey?

  17. Allbuccedup Says:

    Jamaree Slayer swings G/T probably a second or third round pick.

  18. JGhotier Says:

    I’m hoping for him, Kenyon Green, Wyatt, Jameson Williams or a top shelf DB if there. Heck, if Travon Walker magically fell, that’s very hard to pass on as he’s one of my fave players in the entire draft.

    2ndround: Jalen Pitre is my dude in this draft for non-first rounders (AWJ was 2 years ago and this kid gives me the same exact feeling and no one was really talking about AWJ pre-Draft either) or a RB in Spiller, Cook, Hall, White, Williams or Strong Jr

    IOL, IDL, DB, RB, TE & WR are the biggest needs in my mind….and a luxury would be to get a quality backup MLB (or even possible David replacement to start grooming as maybe a Diamond in the rough kinda guy)

  19. ncbucsfan Says:

    I totally disagree with this assessment!! I swe him being completely man-handled while watching Senior Bowl drills against the DT out of UCONN, Travis Jones. Now he or Devontae Wyatt I wouldn’t mind drafting if we lose Suh or Gholston. But if Licht thinks he can do it, I’ll change my tune…..Licht has an eye for OL talent.

  20. David Says:

    Would not be surprising because they could get D line in round two since D line is very deep

  21. Jordan Says:

    Probably right.

    We have Stinnie, Hainsey, and Jensen, but if even one of those goes down, we’re awfully thin.

    You saw what happened when Wirfs went down, granted that’s a little different because of the drop off from Wirfs to Wells, but it showed you how much Brady needs protection

    Brady needs protection more than weapons to throw to. We have Godwin and Mike Evans and probably Gronk. Cyril Grayson or Scotty Miller should step up next year.

  22. Marine Buc Says:

    Keep in mind we may be losing CB C. Davis this year…

    Plus – SMB and Dean will be free agents next year as well.

    Probably a smart move to grab a young CB to develop now rather than later.

    I want a WR3 with our first pick but I think CB would be the wiser move.

  23. catcard202 Says:

    Looking at what’s in-house already & the likelihood that several starter quality IOL will slide into Day2/early Day3… I’m not overly concerned that the Bucs will “have to” go IOL in the 1st.

  24. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Trubisky to Steelers, 2 years.

  25. Francisco Guzman Says:

    Marine Buc go after a corner in free agency. A veteran one. You have gilmore or haden. Bouye was just released as well.

  26. BelleGladeBuc Says:

    Joe Bucs Fan is hitting it out of the park today!

    Cook at RB from Georgia (if Lombardi Lenny doesn’t come back) and Johnson from BC are two players that I love for the Bucs in this draft.

    Great analysis Joe!

    I also love Wyatt from Georgia at DT for his size, strength, his speed that BA said that he wants at the interior defensive line and his crazy lightning fast get off.

    Build the trenches!!!

    Let’s go!!!!

  27. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


  28. HC Grover Says:

    Wow. Every time I tune in something wild has happened.

  29. Joe in Michigan Says:

    I guess it depends on who the Bucs pick up in free agency and/or trades. I saw an article the other day about the Cowboys possibly trading La’el Collins and the Bucs being interested (he makes good money, but maybe the Bucs could restructure his deal). If the Bucs lose Davis and don’t add a free agent CB, I’d say they’re going CB in the first round. We’ll see.

  30. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Francisco

    I would do both…

    Grab a FA vet CB and draft one with pick #27.

    I am predicting we will lose C. Davis in FA. If we sign C. Davis to a long term deal than this changes things a bit.

  31. Mike Johnson Says:

    Joe is right. We’d sure as hell better have a Great..not just good, Offensive line for Brady. A lot of you won’t say it, But Brady is only one big hit away from being carted off the field at his age. Max protect the guy. I would not be at all surprised to see our Bucs go all in on an O lineman in the 1st rd. Plans have changed with Brady back.


    I think its high for a guard, I think a DT/Edge makes more sense. CB might come into play depending on free agency its a very deep corner draft. Licht loves patrick peterson, a new weapon for brady at Wr? Like were sorry brown didnt work out but heres dotson out of penn st…What got promised to him to come back?

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    ‘The best way to keep Tom Brady for 2023 (not a typo) …’

    Classic line Joe. TB12 will soon be 45 years old, is only under contract with us through the end of this season, and we’ve still got about a gazillion holes to fill in our roster. But oh ya, let’s worry about 2023, that’ll do the trick.

    And regarding our OLine, right now we have 3 of the 5 starters from last season under contract, with Marpet & Cappa off to greener pastures. We’ve got Stinnie & Hainsey under contract, but neither are guaranteed a starting slot (gotta be better than good to protect The GOAT). We’ve also got 3 Guards (Leverett, Hutcherson, Molchon) and 2 Tackles (Hubbard, Walton) under contract, but they’re all unproven commodities.

    Got a hunch we’ll sign at least 1 FA OLineman (probably 2) AND draft another.

  34. gotbbucs Says:

    Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

  35. Defense Rules Says:

    Zion Johnson is undoubtedly a bonafide 1st Rnd talent, but the Bucs have a LOT of NEEDS to fill via the draft; well unless we start printing money like the Feds.

    Our Secondary has TWO starting holes (Davis, Whitehead) PLUS 3 other openings (Sherman, Adams, Riley). Seems like that should be a priority.

    Our Defensive Front has THREE starting holes (Suh, Gholston, JPP) PLUS 1 key rotational opening (McLendon). Seems like that should also be a priority.

    Thing is, most of those FAs are OLD. We NEED to get some fresh blood in there, but not with late round draft picks who MIGHT make the Practice Squad & become depth players one day. That won’t cut it for replacing top performers like Suh, JPP, and yes Davis & Whitehead.

    Plus, our 1st Rnd pick is especially important IMO because of the 5th year option. Seems to make sense to use that Rnd 1 pick to draft high-cost players like QB, CB, WR just so we can exercise that 5th year option IF we need to later on.

  36. SlyPirate Says:

    Licht has drafted the most OL in Round 2. Look for a CB in R1.

  37. Duane Says:

    Totally comfortable with having Licht reassemble the offensive line. He takes division 2 guys and they succeed in this league. I think they go defense on day 1, but get a lineman on day 2. I would put a premium on finding a CB in the draft. Going to have to pay for a pass rusher. I also think this player needs to be able to share a few more snaps with Nelson and Tryon, so a vet with a lower cap number makes most sense. RBs and WRs are useless to draft because Brady is not going to play with them.

  38. Rod Munch Says:

    One area where people should have complete faith in Licht is with the offensive line picks. He took Marpet just ahead of where he was expected to go, and he took Cappa way ahead of where he was expected to go.

    Also, remember that we have Hainsey as well. While they had him playing at center, with Jensen back on a 3-year deal, they could easily move him to guard, then you’d have a guy who is cross trained everywhere on the line and, I’d assume, can start at guard, but slide to center if needed, much like Marpet.

    Overall I think Licht will have this handled without issue.

  39. tampabayallday Says:

    DT/DE/WR. I’m sure the FO is good enough to draft quality linemen in the 2nd-4th.

  40. Defense Rules Says:

    tampabayallday … I get the DT/DE/WR & grabbing a OLineman later. BUT … what’s your solution for losing Davis? Where do we get a starting CB for 2022 from?

  41. Buc4evr Says:

    Think losing Marpet is a much bigger deal. I think Cappa is good, but can be replaced. Concerned more about defense ( secondary and D line) this year now that TB12 is back.

  42. Anonymous Says:

    With Jensen signed on for 3 year I think Hainsey should be top of the list to play LG, Stinnie taking over for Cappa at RG. He was a good on a great georiga unit I think he holds his own. Take a chep FA or later round guard to compete.

  43. Noles Says:

    We need a quality CB in FA they ALL get hurt OFTEN.. w Davis most likely gone they need a stable VET

  44. Jamar Dupree Says:

    I’m good with that pick. I will be honest I’m not worried about the O-line. Jason Licht been hitting on O-line since he came to Tampa and we know how to develop lineman

  45. Francisco Guzman Says:

    If i am the bucs i tread Godwin for a first round pick. He keeps playing hard ball. Someone might give you a first rounder for him. It frees up 19 million.

  46. Buczilla Says:

    I’m good protecting our biggest strength (Brady) and Cappa is a solid guard, but nothing special. As always in the first days of free agency, teams have got to overpay in order to pry players from the other teams.

  47. Stone crab sam Says:

    Bucs first 2 picks in draft…. OG and OG.
    Any questions?

  48. SlyPirate Says:

    They’ll replace the Guard by converting a Tackle. It’s what they did with Cappa and Hainsey.

    R2 – Nicholas Petit-Frere, T Ohio State

  49. Jeff Says:

    He won’t be there but sigh him up if he is.

  50. The Coroner Says:

    Yep. A first rounder should be better than a third rounder.

  51. SOEbuc Says:

    Trade back into the second and pick up a DT/CB and inside OL. Get the needed type RB in the third.

  52. Stone crab sam Says:

    That rain man character looks interesting for guard. He’s almost 25 and highly intelligent. Bucs will need to trade up to get him.

  53. BelleGladeBuc Says:

    @Defense Rules

    I agree with you completely about our defense.

    Our defense needs a secondary edge rusher to go with Shaq. We need DT. Next we need CB.

    The most important part of a defense is the front 7.

    I think we need to go after Chandler Jones or Von Miller to solidify our edge rush after restructuring deals and kicking the salary cap down the road.

    That’s what the Rams and the Saints have done with great success.

    I would love to get Wyatt out of Georgia at DT. He’s big, strong and has a lightning fast get off and is the type of speed BA says that we need in our interior.

    The DLINE must be addressed first before other things in my opinion. A great front 7 makes mediocre corners look good and good cornerbacks look great.

    Suh ($8 million) Gholston ($5 million) and Whitehead ($10 million, I consider the SS who is a run supporter to be a part of the front 7’s success) could be had for about almost what it would cost to retain one player in Davis at CB who is rumored to be seeking Jalen Ramsey type money ($20 million).

  54. Itsgoodtobetheking Says:

    Were we assuming he’s not in the group of Players they would consider at 27?

  55. ItzOK Says:

    DE or pass rusher seems to be the get in this draft. Although I don’t have a problem with overprotecting the franchise?

  56. BUCman Says:

    I’m telling ya, don’t sleep on Jahan Dotson, WR out of Penn State with first round pick. He is going to be a star. He would be in the WR3 roll left vacant by Antonio Brown.

  57. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    Do it.

  58. cover deuce Says:

    Unless we’re prepared to go and get him he’s gonna be long gone. Kid is a baller.

  59. Capt.Tim Says:

    As if Brady wont talk Marpet out of Retirement.

  60. Brandon Says:

    Licht is a good GM partially because he has never done what bad GMs do and draft a guard in the 1st round. Don’t freaking do it… even though the place to do it is at the end of the 1st round for guards and running backs… but DL must be addressed.