Thursday, March 6, 2003
Updated: March 7, 12:03 PM ET
Johnson's size, speed impresses scouts
By Len Pasquarelli
If the name of the position was wide athlete and not wide receiver, University of Miami star Andre Johnson certainly would have solidified his status as a premier draft choice on Thursday, as Hurricanes players staged their on-campus workout for NFL scouts.
The chances are still excellent that Johnson will be among the initial 10 prospects selected on April 26 but, during the workout, his receiving skills were clearly secondary to his overall athletic prowess.
"I wouldn't label him a 'body catcher,' because he does grab the ball out in front of him, but he doesn't look really that natural (as a receiver)," said one personnel director. "He doesn't have those real, soft hands, you know?" One college scouting director termed Johnson's showing in the receiving drills on Thursday "a little average."
There was nothing ordinary, however, about Johnson's performance in the athletic drills. While he dropped the first pass thrown to him in the position-specific work, there were no bobbles in the drills that preceded it.
Johnson was timed at between 4.42-4.48, according to three scouts, in his first 40-yard dash. On the second, he ran between 4.37-4.40, scouts said. He also recorded a 41-inch vertical jump, a long jump of 10-feet, 9-inches, and a time of about 4.10 seconds in the short shuttle drill.
Notable was that Johnson, universally assessed as one of the top two wide receivers in this year's draft pool, was measured at 6-feet-1 7/8 and at 224 pounds. That is one-eighth of an inch shorter, and six pounds lighter, than he was at the recent NFL combine workouts.
The other highly-regarded wide receiver this year, Michigan State standout Charles Rogers, is scheduled to work out for scouts on March 18.
The explosive Johnson had 52 receptions for 1,092 yards and nine scores in 2002. Over the last two seasons, he averaged 19.9 yards per catch and also scored 19 touchdowns.
Not surprisingly, the Miami workout was attended by representatives from virtually every team in the league. The Hurricanes had five players chosen in the first round in 2002. That will be difficult to match this year, but the school figures to have at least three first-round selections.
Defensive tackle William Joseph was clocked at 5.16-5.20 on Thursday and had a 30-inch vertical jump. Defensive ends Jerome McDougle and Andrew Williams both ran in the mid-4.6 range. A third end, Jamaal Green, was not able to work out because of recent arthroscopic knee surgery.
|Johnson's size and speed should make him a top 10 pick during next month's draft.|
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.