Johnson answered every question about his ability to play in the NFL last year, posting a breakout season of 1,750 yards and 20 touchdowns. After toiling as a backup to Priest Holmes the last few seasons, Johnson has nailed down the starting role.
Big, strong, fast and possessing good vision, Johnson has few holes in his game. His only real concern is improving his pass protection. He's physical enough and smart enough to block most defenders, so it's just a matter of knowing what his responsibilities are and turning that knowledge into instinct. Now that he's spent the off-season preparing to be the starter, Johnson's pass protection should be greatly improved.
No one knows for sure if Priest Holmes will return, but it likely won't be this season. The Chiefs are entering the season with the hope that Holmes will be back. He may start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but by the time he'd be eligible to come back, he'll have spent an entire year away from football.
With Holmes out of the picture, the 5'10", 210-pound Brown has the inside track to take over as Johnson's primary backup. In his second year with the Chiefs, Brown has game experience, but couldn't distinguish himself last season. Brown is similar in size to Holmes, and has better speed, but lacks Holmes' vision. With a strong camp, he could find himself as Johnson's primary backup.
Brown needs to prove to the Chiefs that he can be consistent, and can gain the tough yards between the tackles.
Entering his third year with the Chiefs, Smith was an un-drafted free agent who spent all of last season on the practice squad. This is probably Smith's last opportunity to make the team. So far this off-season, Smith hasn't shown the Chiefs a lot. He's been solid, if not impressive. There's still time for him to make a splash in training camp.
The diminutive Griffin was picked up by the Chiefs this off-season after being cut by the Denver Broncos in 2005. The Chiefs signed the 5'7", 195-pound Griffin as an insurance policy in the event that Holmes retires. Griffin is a smaller, faster version of Holmes without the same vision. He's got his work cut out for himself if he wants to make the team. Griffin will have to prove himself not only a capable runner, but he'll have to play special teams, something he hasn't done much in his career.
At 5'10", 238 pounds, Ross is a physically imposing running back. He went un-drafted, but tried out for the Chiefs at rookie camp and made such an impression that the Chiefs immediately signed him to a contract. Since then, the young back has done nothing but improve, displaying power and speed. He matches Johnson's size and explosive running style better than anyone else on the roster. The Chiefs coaches are taking a special interest in him, working with him after practices.
A longshot to make the team, the 5'11", 225-pound un-drafted free agent out of Arkansas has an uphill battle ahead of him. Howard could make the practice squad if he shows something this summer. His size makes him an intriguing special teams' candidate, but the Chiefs likely won't give the third running back position to a project like Howard.
State Of The Chiefs: Running Back
WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories
Smoke Signals - League Digest 1.2Jake and Jamie return to the airwaves to discuss the latest news in baseball from this week, including some player extensions and the World Baseball Classic, as well as some…
Indians Baseball Insider9:37 PM
Wackiest moments from 2017 Pro BowlThe 2017 Pro Bowl was filled with the NFL's best, and also included some memorable and enjoyable moments.
Scout NFL Network01/30/2017
LISTEN: Which AFC West Teams Have Improved?Chad Jensen and Luc Polglaze take a sweeping look around the AFC West to determine which teams improved through free agency. Which teams will the Denver Broncos have to look out…
Mile High HuddleMonday at 7:50 PM
Steelers Sign Pair of Free AgentsThe Steelers have signed a kickoff return specialist and a veteran cornerback in free agency.
Steel City InsiderMonday at 12:01 PM