Northern Iowa University isn’t known as a football factory for the NFL, though Kurt Warner, Bryce Paup, Brad Meester, James Jones, and Mike Furrey are all notable alumni who carved out distinguished careers for themselves in the NFL. Heading into this year’s draft, running back David Johnson has plenty of scouts taking notice. He carried the load for his team this past season – 1,553 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing, 537 yards and 2 touchdowns receiving (as well as over 6,000 yards combined, and over 60 touchdowns combined throughout his college career). In the wake of the Lions releasing Reggie Bush, David Johnson could be a perfect replacement candidate.
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Notable Combine Measurables
Weight: 224 pounds
40-yd Dash: 4.5 seconds
20-yd Shuttle: 4.27 seconds
3-Cone Drill: 6.82 seconds
Vertical Jump: 41.5”
Broad Jump: 10’7”
Bench Press: 225 pounds, 25 times
Traits And Projected Round
Johnson is an upright runner, and though not overly physical, he certainly doesn’t shy away from contact, and he has the frame to stand up to the rigors of the NFL. He doesn’t have elite speed, though he proved himself to be a top-tier athlete at the combine (he ran faster than Melvin Gordon in the 40 yard dash). As a runner, he has good vision, quick feet in short bursts, and finds ways to make big plays.
As a receiver out of the backfield, his terrific hands and natural route-running ability distinguish him from other running back prospects. He had the second highest vertical jump of any running back at the combine, and during the season, he absolutely lit up Iowa for over 200 yards receiving. As with any small-school prospect, some NFL scouts will have their concerns regarding level of competition. Ultimately, this could work out well for the Lions. Johnson is likely to be available in the second round, and could still be on the board when they pick in the third round.
Why The Lions Could Draft David Johnson
The Lions will be looking for a running back to replace Reggie Bush, and to help carry the load, with Joique Bell and Theo Riddick. While Johnson is by no means a Reggie Bush clone, his skill-set is a bit of a cross between the physical running style of Bell, and the athletic receiving skills of Riddick. He is also an accomplished kick returner (averaging over 36 yards per kickoff return this past season). His well-rounded skills will allow him the opportunity to play in all situations, and make him an ideal candidate for the Lions.
Former Lion Comparison: Kevin Jones
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