PHILADELPHIA - University of Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson will go down in Eagles' history as coach Chip Kelly's first-ever draft pick.
Kelly and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman selected the 6-foot-6, 303-pounder with the fourth overall pick in Thursday's first round of the NFL draft.
"We're really excited," Kelly said Thursday night at the NovaCare Complex. "Football is all about winning the game up front and we feel like Lane can help us do that."
Kelly indicated that Johnson was among four players the Eagles had targeted as potential first-round picks before the draft, along with Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher, Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel and Oregon outside linebacker Dion Jordan.
Former Eagles coach Andy Reid grabbed Fisher for Kansas City with the first pick, then Jacksonville drafted Joeckel. After Miami traded with Oakland for the right to draft Jordan - Kelly's former player at Oregon - the Eagles didn't hesitate to make Johnson the first player drafted by the franchise in the top five since Reid took quarterback Donovan McNabb at No. 2 in 1999.
The Eagles took Johnson ahead of other candidates such as Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, defensive ends Shariff Floyd (Florida) and Ezekiel Ansah (Brigham Young) and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.
"We had four guys at the top," Kelly said. "The three offensive tackles and Dion. No matter how it fell, we were confident we were going to get our guy."
Few players rose as high on draft boards over the last month as Johnson, who began his college career as a quarterback at Kilgore College in Texas in 2008 after going unrecruited out of high school Groveton (Tex.) High School.
Upon transferring to Oklahoma, Johnson played tight end in the beginning of the 2010 season, then was switched to defensive end at midseason. Injuries to the offensive line prompted Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to move Johnson to right tackle in 2011 and then left tackle last season.
"Moving from quarterback to tight end was probably the toughest transition for me because quarterback is such a glorified position," Johnson said Thursday in a phone interview from NFL draft headquarters in New York. "Playing tackle was hard at first because I had been a skill position player my whole life, but I just kept working hard to improve."