We all like to ask the question: who is the new star in the NFL? Which rookie will blow us away? What rookie will step up for his team?
My vote? Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans.
Affectionately referred to as "CJ" by Titans fans, Johnson was a college standout from the small school East Carolina. Johnson had 17 touchdowns and an average of 6 yards per carry as a Pirate in his senior year, and was a huge combine standout, running a 4.24 second 40 yard dash, beating out the likes of Dexter Jackson and Darren McFadden.
Many thought that he was the 5th or 6th best halfback in a very strong class, and was a second round pick, at best.
But not to the Titans.
Tennessee has been known to dance to their own beat in the drafts recently, taking LenDale White, a halfback, in the second round in 2006, and Chris Henry, a second round halfback, just last year. The last thing they needed was yet another a halfback, right? Well, here come the Titans with their 24th pick, and they choose Chris Johnson, a combine stud. Guess who else was a combine stud?
And he has been subpar, at best. Henry ran one of the fastest 40 times at the 2007 combine, but hasn't been able to get it done, as he slipped on the depth chart, stuck at the bottom.
So, hadn't the Titans learned their lessons? Combine stars aren't always NFL stars.
But, Tennessee had their man Johnson, and went with him into LP Field against Jacksonville as the starter over the powerback White.
They both ended up getting an equal workload; White got 15 carries, Johnson got 15 carries. White managed just 40 yards with his, although he pounded in a touchdown. Johnson ran wild for 93 yards, an impressive 6.2 yards per carry. His receiving skills were also on exhibit, as he caught 3 passes for 34 yards and Vince Young's only touchdown pass of the year.
Since then, Johnson has recorded 103 carries, 549 yards rushing, and 3 touchdowns. He has also caught 14 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.
Good numbers, right? But exactly why should I take him over a Matt Ryan, or a Matt Forte, you ask.
Well, one reason is because Ryan and Forte literally joined two teams with an absolute famine at their respective positions. Ryan had to beat out a bad duo of Joey Harrington and Chris Redman. Forte had to compete with Adrian Peterson (and no, the Chicago one isn't THAT much competition) and Garrett Wolfe. Chris Johnson came on a team where he could be only the third or fourth rushing option, behind White, Young, and potentially Henry.
However, Johnson came in with firepower and claimed the starting role. He is the fourth leading rusher in the NFL for crying out loud. Forte is impressive at ninth, while Ryan is in the 20's in several quarterback statistics.
Why else should I choose Johnson? He has the speed. He could potentially be the fastest player in the NFL, if he isn't already. The game of football has changed; its all about speed now, and Johnson has it. However, he runs with power, and uses his smaller build to an advantage.
Johnson also complements White so well in the backfield. The two run completely different styles: White is the power, Johnson is the speed. Johnson is also very healthy. I can't recall a time hearing about him being injured.
I could throw stats all day at you about Johnson, but they can't speak enough about how dedicated of a football player he is. And if you don't believe me, watch a Titans game; I'm sure your thoughts will match the ones I have in this article.