Quinn Johnson has an affinity for saying, "Yes, sir."
It's so polite. And it stands in the starkest of contrasts to Johnson's on-the-field demeanor, which is anything but polite.
If you're looking for a pure, old-school fullback — and it appears the Packers might be — look no further than the pleasant, smiling, menacing Johnson. Johnson told Packer Report he had a formal interview with the Packers at the Scouting Combine, and he recently told Scout.com's Ed Thompson that the Packers were among the most interested onlookers at LSU's pro day.
Ask the 6-foot-1, 246-pounder to recall one of his favorite plays, and you might guess it would be one of his three touchdown runs as a senior. Instead, it was a head-on collision that led Jacob Hester into the end zone in 2007.
"Maybe the Alabama game last year against Rashad Johnson. I came, collided and he went straight back on his back," Johnson said of his punishing block against one of the draft's top safety prospects. "I enjoy things like that."
With fullbacks being fazed out of many offenses in the NFL, Johnson's draft status is uncertain, to say the least. Some insiders see him going as early as the third round. Others say sixth or seventh round. Regardless, he's considered one of the top blocking fullbacks in the draft.
"Johnson is a physical, powerful threat out of the backfield," Scout.com draft analyst Chris Steuber said. "He has great size and above-average quickness that allows him to be an offensive option. He has to improve his inconsistent pass catching, but if he's utilized consistently, he should develop. He plays with balance and takes on the opposition at the line of scrimmage. He's an aggressive hitter and isn't afraid of contact. He's a bit stiff in the hips and doesn't change direction well. He lacks explosion and isn't an open-field threat."
Fullback doesn't appear to be a major need for the Packers, but if Johnson is available in the later rounds, he might be too good to pass up. While many teams play without a fullback, Packers coach Mike McCarthy often uses two at a time. Problem is, while Korey Hall and John Kuhn are good all-around players, neither is the type of sledgehammer lead blocker that could turn the Packers' running game into a major force.
Plus, fullbacks must be strong special-teams performers, and Johnson's fondness for hitting people fits that mold.
Johnson was an all-state performer as a linebacker at West St. John High School in Edgard, La. The only coach to recruit him as a fullback — Johnson rushed for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior — was Oklahoma State's Les Miles. Johnson went to LSU as a linebacker under coach Nick Saban, but when Saban left to coach the Miami Dolphins and LSU hired Miles, Johnson was moved back to fullback.
"He's an old-school football player," Miles told the Times-Picayune in December. "‘What's the team need? I can do it.' He plays special teams. He plays all the rough and rugged positions. Contact is a part of his game. He's the type of person who has never said much but, ‘How can I help?' He's always demonstrated with his play that he's deserving of every accolade and every opportunity."
Johnson wasn't thrilled with the position switch but warmed up to it because his linebacker mentality suited his new position perfectly. As a senior, Johnson led the way for Charles Scott to rush for 1,174 yards and 18 touchdowns.
"Yeah, I love contact," he said when asked about the smile on his face when talking about a big block. "That's one of the parts that I really love. Contact. Yes, sir."
While he caught only two passes last season, Johnson says he'd rate his hands a "9 1/2 out of 10."
It was nice to get the ball every now and again, but as long as Johnson is butting heads with someone, he's happy.
"I enjoy running over somebody," Johnson said. "I miss it a little bit, but for the most part, blocking makes up for it."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport