David Johnson may be the player most expected to breakout in 2016 by NFL analysts. The young running back has all of the tools necessary to become a top-tier NFL back, but lacked opportunity for the majority of last season.
He was selected out of Northern Iowa in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 86th overall pick. In college, Johnson thrived. He was the first running back in his school’s history with three straight 1,000 yard seasons.
In 2015, the Arizona Cardinals had a crowded backfield. David Johnson, Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington all split time. David ended up having the most snaps out of the three, but he didn’t get much of an opportunity early on in the season.
D. Johnson had only 32 rushes in the first 11 games. Once Chris went down with a fractured tibia, it was David’s time to shine. Weeks 13-15 D. Johnson got the majority of the carries for Arizona, and he proved his worth.
In that three game stretch, he totaled:
70 attempts for 378 rushing yards and three touchdowns, 11 receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown
D. Johnson has a combination of size and speed that is rare in the NFL at the running back position. The running back from Northern Iowa is 6-1, 224 pounds yet still ran a 4.50 sec 40-yard dash at the combine.
In addition to being an effective rusher, D. Johnson is very good in the passing game. Coach Bruce Arians likes to use him through the air in order to get mismatches on opposing linebackers.
Now that the 24-year-old is ranked No. 1 on the Cardinals’ depth chart, he will really begin to show the NFL what he’s capable of. It will be very difficult for defenses to stop D. Johnson down-after-down as he becomes more engrained in the Arizona offense.
There’s a real chance that David Johnson, with his incredible combination of size and speed, is the most productive running back in the NFL this year.