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Steve Keim: 'Scary' how good David Johnson can be


Offensive Rookie of the Year voters slighted Cardinals versatile tailback David Johnson, who garnered just one vote compared to 27 for the award's winner, Todd Gurley.

Devonta Freeman was the only running back with more touchdowns than Johnson's 13 in 2015. From the time he entered the starting lineup in Week 13, no NFL player averaged more yards from scrimmage per game than Johnson's 131.7.


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Johnson showcased such an impressive, well-rounded skill set down the stretch that the Around The Podcast stressed a belief on multiple occasions that he is already one of the top seven or eight running backs in the league.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim bolstered that sentiment, recently telling the team's official team website that it's "scary" to think how good Johnson will be once he develops beyond merely "scratching the surface."

"Just going back and looking at some of things David did on our tape just recently, from a skill set standpoint, it's scary," Keim said. "At 6-1, 226 pounds, a guy who can bend and make lateral cuts the way he does and have the ball skills and the matchup possibilities out of the backfield, he's truly a three-down back that's got the size and the strength to punish in the run game and he's got the skill and the athleticism in the passing game, which is scary."

Although Keim conceded that Johnson is unlikely to match Chris Johnson's magical 2000-yard rushing season in 2009, he does believe the second-year back could flirt with that mark in terms of yards from scrimmage.

"The way he catches the ball out of the backfield and the weapon he is as a receiver, I think he could end up being one of the better all-around backs in the NFL when you look at being a complete player," Keim explained. "A guy that's not subbed for in third-down situations, a guy that can play every snap and can be such a weapon in every phase of the game."

Venerable Cardinals offensive consultant Tom Moore has compared Johnson to Hall of Famer Franco Harris for his unique combination of size, speed, power and receiving ability. That package was on display in the postseason, as Johnson revealed that the Packers started shadowing him with a linebacker, switched to a safety and ultimately resorted to double-covering him by the end of Arizona's thrilling Divisional Round victory.

Beyond the obvious physical gifts, Keim raved about Johnson as "great young man" who is already "highly though of" in the organization.

The former Northern Iowa star left an indelible mark as a rookie, providing a template for the Cardinals going forward.

As Bruce Arians recently put it in assessing the team's offseason plans, "Hopefully we'll find another David Johnson."


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