April 26th, 2008. New York City. NFL Draft Day.
By this time, all of the experts have their ideas on what team will take which player. Most have the Tennessee Titans picking DE Phillip Merling for the 24th overall pick or possibly a WR. The time comes and the Titans select Chris Johnson, an RB from ECU. "What? Are you kidding me", was the line of the moment.
For the past several days since the draft, everyone's "Draft Grades" have been springing up and the resounding theme regarding the Titan's draft is "Why would they take a RB when Vince Young needs a WR?" To answer this, one needs to understand that some NFL teams draft players according to their immediate needs and some draft the best player on the board, regardless of position. This is precisely what the Titans did. Even though their current receiver situation screams, "Please Help Vince Out!", they chose a RB. Well, Vincee-Poo will have to help himself out. However, I don't think he really has anything to worry about. With the addition of Alge Crumpler at TE, a new deal for WR Justin Gage and the return of WR Justin McCareins to the corps, things are looking up for the passing game.
Back to Johnson though; Many may also wonder why the Titans chose Johnson, since they already have LenDale White and Chris Henry. Here we see three RB's with different skill-sets and playing styles. What I think the Titans may be aiming at here is possibly a 1-2-3 combination of Speed (Johnson), Power (White, Henry), and Receiving (All Three). This is similar to an NBA team who has three, point guards, all with different skills. An example would be the Memphis Grizzlies with their tandem of Mike Conley (distributor), Kyle Lowry (Bulldog-finisher), and Javaris Crittenton (Pure Shooter). This provides the team with the best and most effective combination to be successful at that position. This model works for any team sport with multiple players serving one particular position.
To further understand the pick, we need to take a closer look at Chris Johnson.
ESPN lists him a 5-11, 200. In most cases players bulk up quite a bit once they hit the NFL. In that case, we should expect to see Johnson add about ten pounds or so, without affecting his ridiculous speed. Let's talk about that speed. Johnson ran a 4.24, making him the fastest player at this year's NFL combine. To really understand his quickness though, you need to see some game footage. Check out youtube and you'll see what I mean.
Not only does he have speed, he also has the ability to catch and gain many yards after the catch. Many have compared him to Reggie Bush. If those comparisons become just, then we are talking about one dangerous player.
Many have voiced concern over his weight, but as mentioned before, he will add some pure muscle and be right in the "Sweet Spot" for an RB.
Another aspect of Johnson's game is his kick return game. A player with speed and hands like his will undoubtedly return some kicks for TD's. That kinda sounds like another player that the Titans recently had. Let's just say that it would be nice if Johnson, as well as other players don't show a strong affinity for strip clubs and large bags of cash.
Overall, I think the Titans did all right with this one. Only time will tell if they really made the right move. Too bad we'll have to wait until August to find out.
1,228 rushing yards, 4.9 yds per carry, 10 td total.
Johnson was arguably the NFL Rookie of the Year, however, QB Matt Ryan won the award.
Along, with RB LenDale White, Chris Johnson provided much of the offensive boost that helped the Tennessee Titans have a successful season.
The fact of the matter is, he's gonna be one scary football player in the near future.