Paris Johnson Jr. Wants to “Finish What My Dad Couldn't” After Being Drafted By the Same Organization 24 Years Later

By Griffin Strom on April 28, 2023 at 8:35 am
Paris Johnson Jr.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sport

In the fifth round of the 1999 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected a Miami (Ohio) defensive back by the name of Paris Johnson.

Nearly a quarter-century later, the same organization drafted his son, Paris Johnson Jr., who always sought to fill his father’s shoes. But as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, Johnson Jr. has designs on leaving an NFL legacy that far surpasses that of his dad, whose own professional career was nothing to write home about.

“Honestly, I didn't want to say it during the process, but this is what I wanted. I wanted to be a Cardinal,” Johnson said. “Honestly, I do not have a relationship with my dad now. But as a kid, he was a Cardinal, I wanted to be a Cardinal. He went to Miami University, I wanted to go to Miami University in college. Mom didn't want me to play in the MAC. But this is huge. Told the coaches I want to finish what my dad couldn't. I want to finish what he started originally as the original Paris Johnson. So to be able to carry that legacy to the Cardinals is everything.”

Johnson’s mom, Monica Daniels, was the first one to alert her son to the fact that the phone was ringing in the green room in Kansas City after the Cardinals traded up to the sixth pick during the first round of the draft Thursday. But at first, Johnson didn’t believe her. 

Johnson said he actually took a trip to the bathroom as the trade was taking place and even had a conversation with his first offensive line coach at Ohio State, Greg Studrawa. But once reality began setting in, the moment was surreal for the former Buckeye tackle.

“At first I went to the bathroom, then I came back. I'm talking to Coach Stud and I was talking to my mom, and all of a sudden a hear the phone ring. Not my cellphone, but the phone in the room. I heard it ring, my mom was like, 'The phone just rang.' I'm like, 'Mom, you're tripping, what are you talking about?' And then it rang again. And I was on the phone and I realized I was getting a call from (Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort) on the phone. He called me, said I'm gonna be a Cardinal, and my body just – it was crazy.”

It wasn’t just a full-circle moment for Johnson himself. He said his mother, who was with his dad when he was drafted 24 years prior, immediately broke into tears once she realized her son had achieved his lifelong dream.

“It's phenomenal. Looking at my mom, my mom was crying. It was crazy,” Johnson said. “My mom, 1999 draft, my dad got picked in the fifth round. They were sitting in my grandma's living room. The Cardinals picked him. So my mom has heard that name called twice, the same organization. What are the chances of that? What are the absolute chances? It shows the saying, that's how I think I'm meant to be here. This is all part of God's plan.”

"I want to finish what he started originally as the original Paris Johnson. So to be able to carry that legacy to the Cardinals is everything.”– Paris Johnson Jr. on his father

Johnson wasn’t the only Buckeye that got to celebrate a first-round draft selection Thursday. C.J. Stroud was taken second overall by the Houston Texans and Jaxon Smith-Njigba went No. 20 overall to the Seattle Seahawks before the end of the night. Johnson said the camaraderie between the three of them was on full display in the green room as he shared moments with both of his scarlet and gray teammates amid the biggest night of their lives to date.

“That's huge. That's why you go to Ohio State, get developed by Ohio State,” Johnson said. “I'm sitting in the section with C.J. while he gets his named picked. And when I looked up and I'm hugging everybody, Jaxon's right there and I know his name's probably getting called right now. That's just the type of team we have.”

As for what the Cardinals can expect from Johnson on the field, he described himself as a fierce competitor and a loyal teammate in the locker room. And Buckeye fans, coaches and teammates who spent time around the Cincinnati, Ohio, native over the past three years can attest to that fact.

“You're getting a player who plays violent, fast and physical. Those are the three rules of my game and that's what I want to show each time I step on the field,” Johnson said. “And you're getting a great teammate. I want to take care of my quarterback. I want to take care of the guys in the room. I want to get to know those guys, I want to get to learn underneath the vets. There's some great guys in that room to get that leadership from.”

Not only did Johnson get the first-round draft placement he strived for, but he was also selected by the exact team he hoped to play for as a means to carry on the family legacy that began with his father. Johnson said the way things played out on Thursday just proves that he’s in the right place at the right time with his whole future and plenty of goals ahead of him.

“When things align like this that are so incredible that you can only imagine, like that just shows you that all this was meant to be,” Johnson said. “So I'm just ready to work, because I know I'm supposed to be here. I'm supposed to be here right now.”

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