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Cardinals unsure where first-round pick Paris Johnson Jr. will play on offensive line

The Arizona Cardinals' 2023 first-round yo-yo -- dropping from No. 3 to No. 12 overall, then trading back up to No. 6 -- netted them offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr., a favorite of quarterback Kyler Murray entering the draft.

Now the Cards have to figure out where the rookie will play.

Arizona has veteran and former first-rounder D.J. Humphries at left tackle. They re-signed right tackle Kelvin Beachum this offseason. Josh Jones also played solidly last season in nine starts at left tackle and has swing-tackle ability.

So where does that leave Johnson?

"Yeah, we'll figure that out," coach Jonathan Gannon said Tuesday. "He's obviously played outside and inside. We've just got to get him on the grass and see where he kinda fits in with the other guys. I'm very comfortable with what he's put on tape of playing a lot of different spots on that offensive line, so we'll put the best guys out there, the best five, and see how we can make them gel together and hopefully move people in the run game and keep the quarterback upright in the passing game."

Likewise, offensive coordinator Drew Petzing noted the club wants to "get our best five out there."

The Cardinals could push Johnson to left guard to open his rookie campaign, which would cause the draft industrial complex to pull its hair out that Arizona traded back up to No. 6 to grab an interior offensive lineman.

Johnson noted during his introductory press conference that he'd play wherever needed.

"I want to play. That is all I want to do," Johnson said last week. "I've expressed to (general manager) Mr. Monti (Ossenfort) if I've got to play free safety, I will play free safety. You know what I mean? I am here to help the team win. It's all about the team, right? When the team wins, every individual person wins.

"So, whether I'm at guard, whether I'm at tackle, on the right or left side, it does not matter. They teach me how to snap, you get a 6-6 center. I'm going to rock out at it because that's just what I want to do. It doesn't really matter to me."

The Cards have all offseason to determine where Johnson will play and how their offensive line will shake out, although we might not get a clear picture until training camp in late July.

The Johnson selection underscores the notion that the Cardinals -- with a glut of picks in the 2024 draft, including two-first rounders -- are building for the future.

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