Devon Johnson was recruited to Marshall as a linebacker out of high school but was quickly converted to the tight end position. In his two seasons as a tight end, Johnson only accumulated 15 catches for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Before the 2014 season, he was approached by his coach to fill in at running back.
Four months later, Johnson had exploded onto the scene as one of the country’s top rushers. There’s a lot to love about what he could bring to the NFL ranks, as there aren’t many players that have the size and athleticism provided by Johnson.
Devon Johnson is a unique blend of size, power and speed. The former tight end turned running back had a breakout season in 2014 and looked to continue his vicious campaign in 2015. Unfortunately, the injury bug struck for the Thundering Herds leading rusher and he was limited to only seven contests. In his injury-riddled season he still managed nearly 600 yards on the ground to the tune of 6.3 yards per carry.
Stats: 593 rushing yards with five touchdowns (only played seven games in 2015), 1,767 rushing yards with 17 touchdowns (2014)
He’s a rock solid running back that can move with purpose. His size and weight would traditionally put him in the fullback category, but given his athleticism on the field, he becomes a versatile asset for an offense. He can run north, he can run south, Devon Johnson is a back that will smack you in the mouth (You are very welcome for that). While agility isn’t his game, he is able to get around defenders and get up field for large chunks of yards.
As a former tight end, Johnson also possesses the ability to be a pass catcher, an attribute that many teams will love given his frame.
As we move into a new age of football where “tweeners” are seeing an increase in value over many traditional positions, there’ is sure to be a laundry list of tasks that Devon Johnson will be asked of with his new team.
Not necessarily a weakness but a limitation, is that while Johnson is very good as a runner, he isn’t exceptional. Playing in Conference USA also raises questions. Many players have come from the sub-division ranks, but provided Johnson’s size, it brings curiosity as to how much of his success was attributed to his physical stature as opposed to his skill. You can compare his size and strength to Alabama’s Derrick Henry but the Heisman trophy winner is at least two-tenths of a second faster and is a more well rounded athlete.
Johnson has a lot to give, but how much he can truly contribute at the next level will depend on his next coach and the way they decide to use him.
Devon Johnson will end up being a day three pick. As a guy who doesn’t have any quality skills to truly put him in one position or another, he’s going to be somewhat of a developmental project. I do believe that he will be best served as a Mike Tolbert at the next level and if he can show consistency as a pass catcher, may even draw Marcel Reece comparisons.