Snap Judgments (cont.)
Posted: Sunday February 24, 2008 7:44PM; Updated: Monday February 25, 2008 9:37AM
McFadden wasn't the only running back who had a great day. All the top running backs chose to work out, and most excelled. Helping himself with a 4.45 time in the 40 was Illinois junior Rashard Mendenhall, whose speed to some was just as impressive as McFadden's given that he weighs 225 pounds.
"I honestly think Mendenhall is one of the elite players in this draft, one of the 10 best," said one AFC personnel man. "He's a sleeping giant. People are just now getting more familiar with him, because he's a junior and we didn't know all that much about him. But he's big, has great feet, and really runs well. He may be one of the top five, six or seven players in this draft, and it wouldn't surprise me if some team picking in the 20s gives up a fortune to come up and get him."
I know we've already swooned over one small-school quarterback this week in Delaware's Flacco, but we'd be remiss if we didn't at least mention University of San Diego product Josh Johnson. The guy put up mind-boggling numbers at the Division I-AA school, capped by his 43 touchdowns passes and just one interception in 2007. You read that right, a 43-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Are you kidding me?
You can't say it was a complete fluke either, because Johnson had 34 touchdown passes against just five picks in 2006, and 36 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 2005. Add it up and his past three seasons have produced 113 scoring passes and just 14 interceptions. He was also 31-4 as a starter at the school that is forever being confused with San Diego State.
Johnson won the offensive MVP award at the East-West Shrine All-Star Game in Houston last month, and scouts currently have him slated for a third or fourth-round draft slot. New Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is one NFL decision-maker who's both familiar with Johnson and looking for a quarterback. His brother, Jim Harbaugh, coached Johnson at the University of San Diego until leaving to take the Stanford head coaching job in 2007.
Johnson measured 6-2, 213 pounds at the combine, and NFL scouts love his accuracy, his athletic gifts, and his toughness. He didn't have an impressive workout throwing the ball on Sunday, floating several deep passes, but he did run fast (4.55) and jumped 33.5 inches to lead all quarterbacks.
"He threw a bit of a wobbly ball at times," said one NFL personnel man. "But he was accurate in spurts. His ball, I don't know why it floats, but it comes out floating a little. He didn't look great, but he's still an intriguing guy. I can see him in the third or fourth round, being a developmental guy. I know this: I like him better at this point than Tarvares Jackson coming out, and he went in the second round (to Minnesota in 2006). Some of these quarterbacks are going to come off the board higher than people think, because so many teams are desperate for quarterbacks."
Most likely Johnson will go to a team that can afford to wait a couple years for him to fully develop and learn the NFL game. You could see a coach like Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden taking him in the third round, with an eye on grooming him as Jeff Garcia's eventual successor.