Apr/27/15 10:45 PM Filed in: Duke Johnson
There's one area of Duke Johnson's game that the 5-foot-9, 207-pound speedster thinks is far more advanced than any other running back in this year's draft class.
"I would say that I catch better," the Miami product told FOXSports.com on Tuesday. "I create the biggest mismatch when I'm lined up as a receiver or if I'm running routes out of the backfield."
Johnson, who caught 38 balls for 421 yards and three touchdowns during his junior season, also showed versatility in the kick- and punt-return games during his sophomore season, averaging 33.1 yards a return while scoring two touchdowns.
But Johnson made his name by etching himself into Miami's record books. Topping illustrious names like Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore and Willis McGahee, Johnson became the school's all-time leading rusher (3,519 yards) in an abbreviated two-and-a-half year career. Johnson missed six games during his sophomore season after he broke his ankle.
"Durability questions come down to my size," Johnson said. "People wonder if I'll be able to hold up against the bigger guys for 16 weeks plus playoffs. I broke my ankle once in college that required me to miss six games in my sophomore season. Outside of the broken ankle, I've never been hurt."
The size question isn't something that can easily be dismissed. Johnson, however, has proven that he has traits of being an every-down back. One of the most challenging aspects young running backs face in their first season in the league is picking up the blitz and pass protection.
"It's all about knowing where guys are coming from before they come," Johnson said. "That comes down to preparation and watching film. I want to know where guys are coming from before they do so it gives me an upper hand when we actually make contact."
During Johnson's media tour in Los Angeles, he told NFL Network studios and proclaimed that he could run the Cowboys' outside-zone scheme in his sleep.
On Tuesday, when asked what it'd be like to play with another local Miami product and Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Johnson drew a big smile and said: "We'd make history.
"Teddy likes to check the ball down, so that would give me plenty of opportunity to do some damage."
No matter where Johnson lines up on Sundays, though, he's sure to be a game-changing factor.