Johnson talks transition from QB, what he brings to Bears
Scott Wachter - USA Today Sports

Johnson talks transition from QB, what he brings to Bears

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - With their first fourth-rounder at No. 115 overall, the Chicago Bears selected running back Roschon Johnson. Johnson is an incredibly versatile athlete, playing as a quarterback and running back during his four-year college career with the University of Texas, as well as getting some work on special teams. He’s commonly referred to as the backup for top-10 pick, Bijan Robinson, who was drafted No. 8 overall by the Atlanta Falcons.

But Johnson never viewed himself as a backup.

“I never really (viewed) myself as a backup, so regardless of who was getting the carries, I tried to prepare and maintain myself as if I was a starter,” Johnson said. “So, I didn’t really let the perspective of me being a backup have an effect on me. I just kind of took it day by day.”

He started his freshman year with the team as a quarterback; ironically, that is the year he had the most rushing yards out of any season in college with 649. In addition, he had 158 receiving yards that season, the most during his time in college, and a receiving touchdown.

During the entirety of his career, he ran for a total of 2,190 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry.

Transitioning from quarterback to running back is quite the change and something he had to get used to more physically than mentally.

“It was definitely something that I kind of have to get used to physically. It was definitely something that, mentally, it wasn’t really that big of a challenge,” Johnson said. “As a quarterback, you have to know pretty much all 11 guys and their responsibilities … It made it a lot easier for me to go out there and just, you know, just be able to play with my mind and then train my body for certain things. So, I think it was more so a physical curve than a mental curve.”

In developing his running back skills, he has still shown the speed necessary for an NFL running back, posting a 4.58-second 40-yard dash time. He also had a decent vertical jump at 31.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 2 inches.

However, he’s also developed the skill of protecting his quarterback, a key and often overlooked aspect of being a running back.

“Being able to protect, identify what’s coming at me and, you know, just kind of knowing what’s going to happen before it happens,” Johnson said. “I think that really helps me be able to play faster and be able to, you know, just be able to protect.”

Another overlooked aspect of his game is Johnson’s contribution to special teams. Special teams' plays can make or break a game and even a season, as Chicago Bears fans know from 2018. It also provides an offensive player like him an opportunity to tackle people when he otherwise cannot.

“I think special teams is one thing that, I think, it’s something you can contribute with, and it’s a very, very important aspect of the game and a lot of people don’t take it into account,” Johnson said. “So, I think it’s just kind of fun to be on kickoff, being able to run past somebody or run somebody over, you know, just go play a tackle. Me playing offense, that’s something I don’t really get to do, so I think it’s kind of cool that you can come do both regardless of what you play.”

Johnson was one of three offensive players that the Bears acquired in the draft this year - the other two being offensive lineman Darnell Wright in the first round and wide receiver Tyler Scott in the fourth round.

He will join a running back room led by Khalil Herbert with Trestan Ebner and joined by newcomers, D'onta Foreman from the Carolina Panthers and Travis Homer from the Seattle Seahawks.

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