Monday, March 24, 2008

NFL Draft Spotlight on . . . Chris Johnson of East Carolina

Today's NFL Draft Spotlight is on East Carolina's Chris Johnson...Johnson is a 5'11", 195 lb. running back who is also being projected as a possible wide 2007, Johnson rushed for 1,423 yards and 17 touchdowns...he also had 37 receptions for 528 yards and six touchdowns...

Nathan Summers of the Greenville (NC) Reflector covers East Carolina football and was nice enough to respond to our questions about Johnson...I thank him for his time...

Q1. Chris Johnson is rated as one of the top 10 running backs in this year's draft. What are the strengths of his game? What areas must he improve on?
A. Chris's greatest two strengths are his burst and his durability. While he has already shown he is a gifted sprinter, Johnson's greatest early struggles in college were finding the space and the time to use that speed. As he worked tirelessly on his body while at East Carolina, it finally showed in his senior season. He commanded space because he learned how to find his legs and then lean into the momentum of the play and break tackles. His pass-catching skills make him a legitimate offensive threat, especially on the screen.

Q2. What type of person is Chris Johnson off the field?
A. Chris was always a pretty quiet kid, but definitely grew more comfortable with the spotlight as it grew for him. Like many athletes, the media room isn't his favorite place, but he became comfortable enough with me to ask me questions about stories and to understand the reason for the attention. His teammates have always said he was one of the most devoted players to the ECU program.

Q3. I read in one publication that Johnson may be moved to wide receiver in the NFL. What are your thoughts about that?
A. The wide receiver question has been following Chris since his sophomore season, and seemed at first to be the product of a struggling team needing quick offense. He has blinding speed on routes over the middle and the bubble screen became one of his greatest weapons as a senior. But his growth physically in the last year seems to have made him a better pass-catching back and return man than a classic receiver.

Q4. Are there any other ECU players that we should keep an eye on for this year's draft?
A. Defensive back Travis Williams is a player with speed, flair and personality who had an up-and-down career at ECU, but who played through a couple of coaching changes. He was the other young star on the losing teams of the John Thompson coaching era and, like Johnson, played all over the field. But he was bent on being a corner, and Williams — who made a game-winning overtime interception at Southern Miss as a junior — continued training at Tom shaw's Wide World of Sports in Orlando this winter in hopes of being drafted.

Q5. Who are some of the future NFL prospects that we should pay attention to on the 2008 ECU team?
A. The most obvious emerging stars seem to be the receiving duo of Jamar Bryant and Dwayne Harris, who will be the starting flanks this season in the ECU offense. Young running backs like Jonathan Williams and Norman Whitley will also have the chance to emerge as the next Chris Johnson.

Once again I want to thank is much appreciated...

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