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Ty Johnson will have to fight to make the NFL, but his speed gives him a chance

The running back’s special teams work and home-run hitting capability should earn him NFL looks whether he’s drafted or not.

Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Ty Johnson is one of several Maryland football alumni waiting to see where they’ll land come the NFL Draft. Despite ending his Maryland career with 4,196 all-purpose yards, good for third place in school history, Johnson didn’t earn a combine invitation, and the running back will now have to fight his way onto an NFL roster.

With the draft just over a week away, let’s take a closer look at Johnson’s pro outlook. We’ll be profiling several of Maryland’s potential draftees in the coming days.

The numbers

Height: 5’10
Weight: 212

40-yard dash: 4.26-4.40 (unofficial)
225-pound bench reps: 27
Vertical jump: 34 inches
Broad jump: 10’3

What an NFL team is getting

As shown with his 40-yard dash time, which would have led all running backs who competed at the NFL combine, speed is Johnson’s strongest asset. Through his career at Maryland, Johnson used bursts of speed to allow himself to run past the reach of defenders.

With that speed, Johnson could easily find a role on special teams in the NFL. He was exceptional for Maryland as a kick returner, ending his career with 1,194 yards on returns and two returns for touchdowns. Those two touchdowns came against tough competition, too — one was for 98 yards against Michigan last season and the other was against Ohio State for 100 yards in 2017.

Though returning is the strongest aspect of his game, Johnson can also be a home-run hitter out of the backfield. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry over his Maryland career, compiling 17 touchdowns, 2,635 rushing yards and 318 receiving yards in 46 games, in addition to his return yards. Johnson also had 11 games with over 100 rushing yards during his time as a Terp, including a career high 204-yard game against Purdue in 2016.

His senior year was definitely not his strongest, as he dealt with a calf injury that kept him out of play for three games and helped lead to Anthony McFarland’s emergence as a star. But Johnson’s junior and sophomore seasons showed he can be an asset when healthy.

Draft projections

So far, the only announced official visits for Johnson were with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, but at his pro day he said he had a lot lined up.

There aren’t many seven-round mock drafts out, so it’s hard to say where Johnson could land. His impressive 40-yard dash time could earn him a late draft pick, but he could also very likely end up going undrafted. Even in that case, though, Johnson will at least have a chance to work his way onto an NFL squad, as several undrafted Terps did last year, including Super Bowl champion JC Jackson.