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NFL Draft

Can David Johnson Get Off To Fast Start With Texans?

  • The Draft Network
  • September 10, 2020
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After the Houston Texans traded away one of the best players on their roster, and one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the league, for a running back that’s nearing 30 and hasn’t had a 1,000-plus yard season since 2016, everyone—besides Houston’s decision-makers—was wondering why.

The Arizona Cardinals got the obviously better end of the deal and awarded DeAndre Hopkins with the richest deal for a non-quarterback. Hopkins and the Cardinals agreed to a two-year, $54.5 million extension, paying out $27.25 million per year and $42.75 million at signing earlier this week. It will effectively keep him in Arizona until 2024, and in return, the Texans get David Johnson for two more years. 

Johnson, who was selected in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cardinals, seemed to peak his sophomore season. The 1,239-yard, 16-touchdown season was his best to date. In the time since, Johnson has been unable to reach that illustrious mark, coming closest in 2018 with 940 yards following an injury-shortened 2017 season.

He’ll be RB1 in Houston after Carlos Hyde signed with the Seattle Seahawks in the offseason; Hyde is coming off his own career year of 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. Johnson is also hoping for a revival year with the Texans. While Johnson can be a 1,000-yard rusher, the Texans will need something more immediate in their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.

Johnson needs to be (and stay) healthy because when he has played and started in a full season, he’s been productive out of the backfield. Johnson is also a receiving threat. In his Pro-Bowl season in 2016, he recorded 879 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. He can be effective in both areas for the Texans, and they’ll need him to be against the Chiefs.

The Texans return all five starters from their offensive line, which can take another step forward this season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson will be playing on the heels of a massive contract-extension; and while there are receiving options in Brandon Cooks, Will Fuller, and Randall Cobb, Houston can have another pass-catcher in Johnson to make up for the lack of star power with Hopkins gone. But that can come once he becomes more comfortable in this system.

For now, if Johnson can have a productive game with 100-or-more yards, with the help of the improving and cohesive offensive line, he’ll have a successful debut. Head coach Bill O’Brien and Texans’ brass studied Johnson and believe, despite an injury-riddled career, he can return to form; a good showing in his Houston debut can begin to prove them right.

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