Ian Johnson is either an intriguing third- or fourth-round pick in next month's NFL Draft or he's a seventh round or even undrafted project with a lot left to prove.
We'll know more on Monday.
Johnson has spent the week prepping for the annual East-West Shrine game, a collection of college all-stars and the scouts that love to doubt them. Johnson sure has plenty of the latter, despite his being one of the most recognizable of the former. There is no doubt that he still has star power, but scouts have yet to see any of his NFL power.
Take this analysis from the gatekeepers at ESPN:
Yes, Johnson has 58 career rushing touchdowns and this season passed former San Diego State great Marshall Faulk as the Mountain West Conference leader in career rushing touchdowns. However, Boise State's spread scheme and the vertical seams it created for Johnson likely inflated his production.
Perhaps more importantly, the speedy defenses of Oregon (regular season) and TCU (in the Poinsettia Bowl) appeared to expose his lack of elite quickness and power. As a result, it's important that Johnson take advantage of this opportunity to show he can produce in a pro-style offense going up against a talented group of linebackers from the East that includes South Carolina's Jasper Brinkley, Georgia's Dannell Ellerbe and Boston College's Robert Francois.
A Freudian slip of Mountain West Conference aside, this summation of Johnson is pretty par for the course among NFL scouts. He doesn't look fast. He won't make defenders miss. He may not fit in the standard NFL offense. It is up to Johnson to prove otherwise, and he's running out of opportunities.
Monday at the Shrine Game practice ... not so good.
I wasn't particularly impressed with Boise RB Ian Johnson's quickness, but it is tough for RBs early in the week as there aren't great running lanes as offensive linemen are learning to play together.
Yesterday at practice ... a little better.
Boise State RB Ian Johnson and TCU RB Aaron Brown both had some nice runs on Tuesday. Johnson was much more decisive during the scrimmage portion.
Johnson has the Shrine game Saturday, the NFL Scouting Combine in February, and a TBD Pro Day at Boise State to change the growing perception about his effectiveness at the next level. And if he doesn't, then our NFL Draft party is going to be quite a downer.
Shrine Bowl practice notes from Monday [Houston Chronicle] | Boise State's Johnson must prove his speed and quickness in Shrine Game [ESPN.com]