Chances are David Johnson will not win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, but that does not mean his first NFL season was anything other than a success.
The third-round pick out of Northern Iowa ran for 581 yards and eight touchdowns on 125 carries while adding another 457 yards and four scores on 36 receptions. He also impacted the team as a kick returner, amassing 598 yards and one touchdown on 22 attempts.
By the end of the season Johnson had ascended to the top of the team’s running back depth chart, and was a bright spot in the team’s NFC Championship Game loss to Carolina with 128 total yards and one touchdown.
And though his production is not likely to see him rise above the likes of Oakland’s Amari Cooper, Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston or the Rams’ Todd Gurley with regards to the top award for a first-year player, if NFL.com’s Willie McGinist had a vote, it would go to the Cardinals’ running back.
In a piece where a slew of NFL.com panelists made their Rookie of the Year pick, the former linebacker went with Johnson, writing, “opportunity knocked, and David Johnson answered in a major way.”
David Johnson started third on the Cardinals’ RB depth chart, but when called upon, he was prepared to carry the load. Johnson did a good job catching the ball out of the backfield and scored a lot of touchdowns. Because of him, the Cardinals had balance down the stretch. They gave him a lot of carries and he held up. He really made a name for himself.
He really did.
Johnson set a franchise record for total touchdowns by a rookie with 13, and by the end of the season had likely cemented himself not only as the team’s running back of the future, but as a central part of the offense, too.