NFP Prospect Focus: David Johnson and John Crockett

This year’s running back class just may be the best we have seen in years. Not only are there a number of backs form the traditional big school powers, but also there are several top prospects from smaller schools. Previously I did a report of South Dakota State’s Zack Zenner. Today, we will look at Northern Iowa’s David Johnson and North Dakota State’s John Crockett. David Johnson – RB – Northern Iowa Johnson is fifth year senior and a very productive two and a half year starter at Northern Iowa. He ran for over 1000 yards in each of his last three seasons including 1,286 yards in 2013 and 1,553 in 2014. He also had 76 receptions for 929 yards and 4 touchdowns over the last two seasons. At 6’1 – 224, Johnson has excellent running back size to go along with top athleticism. At the Combine, he had one of the better overall workouts in the running back group. He ran the 40 in 4.50, had a 41” vertical jump, a 10’7” standing long jump and shuttle times of 4.13 and 7.09. He also did 25 reps in the bench which is equivalent to a 400 pound bench press. As a runner, Johnson can be a bit upright, but he has good vision and instincts and can be creative. He does a good job setting up and following blocks. He runs behind his pads and shows power. He consistently gets yards after contact. He has burst to turn the corner and get outside, and when in space, he can make a defender miss. He is excellent as a receiver with soft hands and top ability to adjust to the ball in the air. He consistently gets yards after the catch with his run skills. Like most college backs, he will need to improve his pass blocking but showed at the Senior Bowl that he can get this done. Overall, I see Johnson as a back who will be a role player early on and eventually be a consistent rotational type back. He can also be used as a kickoff return man. He may never be the “bell cow”, but most teams will be very happy to have him. John Crockett – RB – North Dakota St. In the last three seasons, Crockett has rushed for over 4300 yards including 1,994 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2014. In that same time frame, he has 43 receptions for 485 yards. At 6’1 – 217, Crockett has adequate size to go along with adequate speed. He ran 4.62 at the Combine where he also had a 40” vertical jump, a 10’5” standing long jump and 7.15 and 4.25 times in the agility drills. When a player runs an average 40 time at the Combine, you would hope that he would run again at his pro day. That was not the case with Crockett which tells us that 4.62 is about the best he can do. As a runner, Crockett is an instinctive jump cutter with a burst. He is best as a between the tackles pounder, but he also has a burst to get outside. He runs with good lean and power and is consistently able to get yards after contact. In the open field, he can make the first man miss, but I wouldn’t say he has top elusiveness. As a receiver, he has good hands and is able to get open on the shorter routes. He is willing as a blocker but will need technique work. I see Crockett as a tough, physical inside runner and a reliable receiver. He is similar in style of play to Cleveland’s Terrance West. Like most small school players, he will need a period of adjustment, but he can become a solid NFL rotational back. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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