Joe McKnight will be the first USC Trojan running back selected in the 2010 NFL draft, but he may not have the best career. Fellow USC tailback Stafon Johnson had himself a solid first month last year (five touchdowns in four games) until he suffered a scary neck injury while bench pressing.
I'm sure many of you can recall hearing something about Johnson as his injury was all over the sporting news world when it happened this past college football season. The injury was so bad that it wouldn't have been a surprise if Johnson hadn't made it out alive after his bar bell (275 pounds) fell straight onto his neck.
Fortunately Johnson did make it out alive, but he spent a good amount of time off of his feet as he recuperated from surgery.
While the injury has set Johnson back, and his voice is obviously still recovering, he has been able to participate in workout drills like the NFL combine and his recent pro day. At the combine Johnson ran about a 4.7 second 40-yard dash time and a month later at his pro day he's upgraded that time to a 4.59.
It's nice to see that the young man ran a better time, but it also speaks to the fact that he is continuing to regain his strength and should continue to develop back to his former football skill set.
Couple that information with the fact that Johnson actually participated at the Senior Bowl in January, and it's been an amazing comeback for a young man that almost lost his life this past fall.
NFL Draft Projection
Johnson is projected to be a mid to late round pick at this year's draft, but that might not be all that bad, even for this upcoming season. Two teams on which Johnson could make an impact this season are the Redskins and the Seahawks.
Coach Mike Shanahan always finds a good running back in the mid to late round range who can make an impact for his team. With a running system that is friendly to run behind, Johnson could make an impact in a committee with Larry Johnson when Clinton Portis falls to another injury.
The Seahawks have Johnson's old USC coach, Pete Carroll, and they are in need of a running back like Johnson that can help run the ball between the tackles. I'm sure Carroll would love to have his former runner back with him in the pros at a mid to late round price.
Wherever Johnson ends up, he is no doubt worth keeping an eye on over the next few years because of his talent and his story. Once Johnson is truly back to his full skill set and playing up to his capabilities, he could definitely help fantasy owners if given an opportunity. Good Luck, Stafon.
NFL fantasy football player rankings writer Sean E. Douglas: fantasy-info.com