NFL.com panelist picks David Johnson to lead league in rushing in 2017
May 26, 2017, 9:14 AM | Updated: 1:33 pm
(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
David Johnson led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season with 2,118.
He also scored a league-best 20 touchdowns, and firmly established himself as one of the games’ most dynamic and dangerous offensive players with his mix of deft running and great ability as a receiver.
What could he do for an encore?
Johnson, who is entering his third NFL season after being chosen in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Northern Iowa, could reach 1,000 yards receiving or become the first player in NFL history to notch at least 100 yards from scrimmage in every game.
Or, perhaps more simply, he could lead the league in rushing, which is what NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison predicted of him.
Harrison was the only member of NFL.com’s nine-analyst panel to choose Johnson to pace the NFL, noting the back has the skills and opportunity to achieve the feat.
David Johnson will lead the NFL in rushing in 2017. While Ezekiel Elliott will run behind a better offensive line, the Cowboys did lose an underrated run blocker in Ronald Leary and a stout tackle in Doug Free. The absence of both unsung guys on the Dallas line could mean slightly less production, at least in terms of yards per carry. Le’Veon Bell is still the best overall RB in the game, but it has become increasingly difficult to rely on him to play a full slate.
Meanwhile, Johnson remains the most reliable weapon the Cardinals have. If the youngsters pan out in the back seven, Arizona could find itself in lower-scoring games. Thus, the Cards will look to pound the rock with No. 31 a whole lot.
Johnson finished seventh in the NFL last season with 1,239 rushing yards, with his 4.2 yards-per-carry average ranking ninth among RBs who reached a quadruple digit total.
Is there room for more?
Not long ago Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Johnson was too young to overuse, implying he is not likely to see his touches decrease in 2017. That said, Johnson does much of his damage as a receiver out of the backfield, with those yards of course not helping his chances of leading the league in rushing.
As Harrison notes, the Cardinals playing in lower-scoring games would help, as would having late leads that need to be salted away.
The other running backs listed are the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott, the Titans’ DeMarco Murray, the Bears’ Jordan Howard, the Bills’ LeSean McCoy and the Saints’ Adrian Peterson. Howard, McCoy and Elliott were each picked twice.