- ROB RANG'S 2013 NFL DRAFT DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH: Dennis Johnson, Arkansas, 5-7, 196, 4.49* ... I can appreciate the fact that former Arkansas running back Knile Davis is the more impressive athlete in comparison to Johnson, but anyone who watched much of the Razorbacks over their respective careers will likely recognize the value the short (not small) running back/receiver/returner extraordinaire held with the team. Johnson left the SEC having led the conference with 5,330 all-purpose yards (2,036 rushing, 510 receiving, 2,784 as a kick-returner) in 50 games. In one of the more shocking snubs in recent combine history, he wasn't invited to Indianapolis but did prove his athleticism during an impressive Pro Day workout.
Five Other Running Backs to Consider: 1. Ray Holley, Louisiana Tech, 5-8, 194, 4.57* ... 2. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers, 5-8, 203, 4.62 ... 3. Miguel Maysonet, Stony Brook, 5-9, 209, 4.64 ... 4. Robbie Rouse, Fresno State, 5-7, 190, 4.75 ...5. Kerywn Williams, Utah State, 5-8, 195, 4.44 - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
Full Dennis Johnson News Wire
Five years ago, much of the hype revolving about the Arkansas program was the talented running of Darren McFadden and fellow speedster Felix Jones. Though he served as a backup running back, fullback, H-back and the team's primary punt returner, Peyton Hillis didn't get nearly as much attention from NFL scouts and therefore the seventh-round pick's success in the NFL has been characterized by many as surprising.
Johnson lacks the burly frame of Hillis, but he has proven similarly reliable and versatile over his career. Johnson stepped up when Knile Davis was injured in 2011 to rush for 670 yards, and built on that with 757 yards as a senior.
He is also an electrifying kick returner, owning the school career record with 2,784 yards and three touchdowns. With NFL teams increasingly on the lookout for versatile playmakers, he could earn consideration in the late rounds.
STRENGTHS: The 5-9, 205-pound pin ball is difficult for defenders to tackle due to his excellent balance, as well as short, choppy steps that give him power and quickness. Whether as a running back or returner, he is quick to and through the hole, has a nice stutter-step to get defenders leaning and, due to his low center of gravity, always seems to fall forward.
WEAKNESSES: Has good vision, lateral agility and burst, but lacks elite straight-line speed. More versatile than game-breaking. Has never been a full-time feature back, with a career-high 137 carries as a senior.