NFL Network analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks ranked the top five NFL players of 2016 on “Move the Sticks,” and a Cardinal made the list.
Second-year running back David Johnson placed fourth, behind Le’Veon Bell, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan and above Landon Collins.
“We know what he can do running the rock, but you can line him up outside, you can line him in the slot, he can run routes out of the backfield,” Jeremiah said. “He gives your offense so much flexibility.”
Johnson, a third-round pick from Northern Iowa in 2015, broke onto the national scene this past season. He led the NFL in total touchdowns with 20, touches with 373, and yards from scrimmage at 2,118. The yards from scrimmage mark set a franchise record for a single season.
Of his 373 touches, a healthy 80 were on receptions, which he turned into 879 yards and four touchdowns.
“They’re able to use him as a quasi-wide receiver,” Brooks said. “He’s really added a dynamic and a dimension to their offense.”
Though the Cardinals were not especially relevant nationally given their 7-8-1 record, Johnson earned due credit for his productivity. He was a First Team All-Pro selection and a Pro Bowler, and Pro Football Focus graded him as the best receiver of 2016.
Johnson wasn’t able to play the Pro Bowl after suffering a knee injury in Week 17 against the Los Angeles Rams. While originally feared to be a tear, he was diagnosed with a sprained MCL that did not require surgery.
And, as Johnson noted via his own Twitter account, he seems to be progressing nicely.
With high praise coming from several sources, most recently Jeremiah and Brooks, Johnson has a large spotlight on him as he prepares for his third season.
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