Checking In with Top Dallas RB Target

One of the top running backs on the board for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2008 NFL Draft talks about a number of topics with

East Carolina's Chris Johnson cemented his stature as one of the top running backs in this year's NFL Draft with a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The 5-foot-11, 197-pound back rushed for 1,468 yards his senior year while averaging 6.2 yards per carry. As if that wasn't enough, he tacked on another 528 yards by catching passes out of the backfield and another 1,009 while returning 36 kickoffs for a 28.0 average.

The Cowboys, who are currently in need of a running back to compliment the skills of Pro Bowler Marion Barber, are certainly in the mix for his services with two first round draft picks.

In addition, Dallas was one of a handful of teams that spoke extensively with Johnson at the NFL Combine and the Senior Bowl.

Johnson reflected on his experience at the NFL Scouting Combine and talked about what lies ahead during this exclusive interview.

Was your Combine experience what you expected it to be? And how was it a little different than you expected?
JOHNSON: I expected it to be a great time.  The only thing that was not great about the Combine was going into all of the doctors appointments.  You were there so long that you were drained.

Chris Johnson runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

I saw you had a 40-yard dash time of 4.24 seconds, tops among all running backs. I know you're one of the fastest backs in this draft, but did you surprise yourself at all?
JOHNSON:  I wasn't surprised I came out on top, but I was a little surprised by the time I ran.  I've been running 4.24 to 4.26, but I thought I ran a 4.28 to 4.29 out there. So I was a little surprised by the 4.24.

You were also 4th in the vertical jump, 3rd in the broad jump. What did you do to train for those events? And were they events you expected to do well in?
JOHNSON:  To be honest, I didn't think I did as well in the vertical jump as I could have; I'll probably redo that on my pro day.  I've only practiced the broad jump once since I've been training, so that surprised me.

Was your visit to the media room a good break from the rest of schedule?
JOHNSON:  I didn't really know I was going to do the media stuff, but I did a lot of media at school.  It was a great time in there.

Talk about your Senior Bowl week. Was it disappointing to only be there a couple days because of the injury?
JOHNSON:  Yeah, it was disappointing that I didn't get the chance to participate in the game.  The two days that I was there, I had good practices. So I came away with some good things and some bad things.

You were showing some nice speed while you were there. You really stood out as I watched those practices.
JOHNSON:  Yeah, I showed them that I'd be able to pass block at the next level.  I wanted to show them my speed and being able separate from the linebackers inside.

AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune, Greg Kreller

What are your plans for your upcoming pro day?
JOHNSON:  At the Combine I did the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, and broad jump.   At my pro day, I'm going to do the short shuttle, the three cone, the bench press, and position drills. The only thing I'm going to do there that I did at the Combine is the vertical jump.  I hope to improve on the vertical jump.

What was it like interviewing with the NFL coaches and GMs?
JOHNSON:  It was exciting because you're in the room and you see a coach you see on TV everyday.  So you're like "oh, man" but you have to go in there and impress the coaches.

Out of all the coaches you met, which ones stunned you the most as you met them for the first time?
JOHNSON:  Probably Marvin Lewis and Jeff Fisher. I've never really seen any coaches in person. And as soon as I walked in the room, they were sitting right there asking questions.  It just surprised me a little bit.

When talking to GMs and coaches, what was it you really wanted them to know about you?
JOHNSON:  I just told them that I was a level person with great character, no character problems in my future or anything like that.  They're going to get somebody on their team that the whole team is going to be able to get along with and the whole team will like.

Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at You can contact him by email through this link.

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