Is David Johnson the best running back in the NFL?

Is David Johnson the best running back in the NFL?

When the Arizona Cardinals drafted David Johnson out of Northern Iowa in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, they probably didn’t expect the rookie to mature into an elite running back inside his first two years in the professional game.

However, that is exactly what has happened – Johnson is now widely regarded as one of the top running backs in the business; and he is one of the very few three-down stars in the National Football League. In fact, his pass-catching ability is what puts him above his backfield rivals.

" David Johnson " ( CC BY 2.0 ) by  wxcasterphx

Last season, Johnson split carries with Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson before earning the full-time starting role in Week 13. From there, the youngster has blossomed and he is now the clear number one running back in Arizona.

At the end of the 2015 campaign, Johnson racked up 658 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns in the final five weeks; and he has picked up where he left off at the beginning of the new season.

Six weeks into the new campaign and Johnson is currently third in rushing yards with 568 yards at an average of 5.0 yards per carry – an impressive statistic. In addition, he has scored more rushing touchdowns (8) than anybody else, as well as offering a potent threat in the passing game out of the backfield.

Comparatively, the 2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley is averaging a measly 2.9 yards per carry whilst Houston Texans back Lamar Miller has just one rush of over 20 yards despite carrying the ball 125 times.

Statistically, Johnson is one of the best in the NFL but it is his work in the trenches that stands him apart from the rest. The Cardinals back rivals Le’Veon Bell for the most patient running back accolade and his willingness to hold and hit the gaps is a key reason for his success.

A number of backs, including Gurley, have tried too hard to force their way through the defensive line but Johnson has that added burst of acceleration to exploit spaces up front – and Arizona head coach Bruce Arians knows that this is an integral part of his player’s game.

The Cardinals started the season slowly but Arians’ side stand a great chance of reaching the playoffs if Johnson continues to carry the offense. As of October 20th, Arizona are priced at 14/1 in the latest Super Bowl betting odds available with Bet365 and fans will be hoping that their iconic running back stays healthy for the remainder of the campaign.

Carson Palmer is a talented quarterback but the Cardinals need help out of the backfield and they have a reliable option in David Johnson. While it would be perhaps a little unfair to claim that the Arizona back is a better option in that position than Le’Veon Bell, he is certainly on a level with the best in the business.

And given time, Johnson could be the elite talent to inspire the Cardinals to a maiden Super Bowl victory for the franchise.