2023 NFL Draft sleepers: Texas RB Roschon Johnson has feature-back skills

Texas running back Bijan Robinson might be the best non-quarterback skill position player in the 2023 NFL draft class. Robinson’s combination of size, speed, movement skills, power, and versatility will make him a coveted first-round prospect when the draft rolls around, “running backs don’t matter” talk aside.

The only reason we haven’t heard more from Texas running back Roschon Johnson is that the guy above him in the Longhorns’ depth chart is an alien. But that should not in any way minimize what Johnson has been able to do to college defenses, and his potential for success at the NFL level.

In four seasons with Texas, Johnson totaled 2,182 rushing yards, a 5.6 yards per carry average, and 23 touchdowns on 392 carries. The high-school All-American quarterback from Port Arthur, Texas (the birthplace of Jimmy Johnson and Janis Joplin), who switched positions at Texas after injuries forced that hand, also caught 56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns in his collegiate career.

The plan was for Johnson to get down to the Senior Bowl this week and benefit from the spotlight on him as it hadn’t been before. Sadly, he suffered an injury early in the week that will prevent him from further participation, but he managed to leave an impression in the few reps he had.

I would not be surprised if Johnson finds himself with an NFL team in the second day of the draft, because the skills pop right off the tape.

While he’s more than capable of running with power (as you’d expect from a back with a six-foot-2, 223-pound frame, Johnson can also turn on the jets both at the second and third levels, and when it’s time to bounce something outside. His longest run of the 2022 season, this 52-yard touchdown against Oklahoma State, was more about Johnson’s ability to just beat everyone to the goal line.

And just because he’s big, don’t assume that Johnson was forcing all of those missed tackles by running people over. On this 32-yard run against UTSA, Johnson’s quickness and elusive in short spaces were the featured skills.

Of course, when it is time to just go Beast Mode on a defense, Johnson has no problem doing that. He’s an aggressive, smart runner with outstanding second-reaction recovery and contact balance. You don’t have to tell Oklahoma’s defense about it — they’ve seen it up close.

Johnson has been great in relative anonymity for a long time, and it’s unfortunate that he’ll miss most of his star turn in Mobile. But it’s my guess that NFL teams are already more than aware of what he can bring at the next level.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire