It’s been quite the three weeks for David Johnson. The 2015 third-round pick out of Northern Iowa has at least 90 yards rushing in his last three games and is coming off of a primetime performance against the Philadelphia Eagles that earned him FedEx Ground Player of the Week honors.
His play in December has him now as a dark-horse candidate for Rookie of the Year and NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling addressed that in his latest rankings.
Venerable Cardinals offensive consultant Tom Moore compared Johnson to Hall of Famer Franco Harris for his combination of size, speed, power and receiving ability. That package was on full display versus the Eagles, as Johnson turned 33 touches into 229 yards and a trio of touchdowns — sailing past Ottis Anderson and Tim Hightower for the most touchdowns by any rookie in franchise history.
Johnson has proven to be a marked upgrade on Chris Johnson, averaging 157 yards from scrimmage since taking over as the featured back early this month. If he finishes the season with 15+ touchdowns, he’s going to garner serious consideration for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.’
Wesseling has Johnson ranked sixth in the race, behind Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper and Rams running back Todd Gurley.
While Johnson’s emergence has come in only three games, Wesseling notes that the award is still up for grabs.
The Rookie of the Year chase is close enough that the events of the next two weeks could shake up the entire list, leaving a handful of players capable of stealing the award with difference-making performances down the stretch.
With that in mind, Johnson has a lot of work to do to catch up to Gurley. The rookie out of Georgia has 1,023 yards rushing and nine touchdowns this season. That’s compared to Johnson’s 517 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
It is worth noting that Johnson has done some major work in other departments, with 335 yards receiving and four touchdowns, and he also has returned a kick for a touchdown. His total touchdown count of 12 does outnumber Gurley’s nine.