2009 NFL Draft Updates: Johnson Bulks Up
Rashad Johnson (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Rashad Johnson (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Scout.com Senior NFL Analyst
Posted Feb 26, 2009


Scout.com's Ed Thompson shares notes and quotes from his conversations with five NFL Draft prospects who just returned from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis: Alabama safety Rashad Johnson and QB John Parker Wilson, LSU LB Darry Beckwith and FB Quinn Johnson, and Clemson QB Cullen Harper.

Alabama safety Rashad Johnson has been purposely bulking up during his offseason workouts and is really pleased with the results. 

"The nutrition program is spectacular. Everybody has their own set diet and meal plans," he said during a recent interview with Scout.com. "I know I came in here with some questions from scouts about my size—and as a result my durability since guys are bigger and faster in the NFL. So I've put on a significant amount of weight, but I'm also running faster than when I got here."

Johnson was listed at 186 pounds on Alabama's 2008 roster and then weighed in at 195 during January's weigh-in at the Senior Bowl.

"I had put on some weight before I got to the Senior Bowl and scouts told me it looked good," he said. "They told me I looked good on the field with my range and little things like my backpedal."

Based on his reported weight at the Combine a few days ago, Johnson obviously continued his regimen of adding muscle. He weighed in at 203 pounds.

"I'm seeing the most change in my upper body frame. I can look in the mirror now and see a totally different frame than what I had when I first got here," he said. "My chest is definitely a lot bulkier, and my back. It's just crazy, because I looked at pictures yesterday of what I looked like when I first got here, and now it just looks totally different."

Johnson is a former walk-on at Alabama who became highly regarded for his field intelligence and leadership. He finished second on the team in tackles with 89 during his final season, intercepted five passes, broke-up 11, forced a fumble and recovered one.


Clemson QB Cullen Harper was excited to have an opportunity to showcase his skills at the NFL Combine.


Doug Benc/Getty Images

"It's another opportunity for me to go out there and throw the ball and show everybody that I can make all the throws on the football field," he told Scout.com shortly before leaving for Indianapolis.

But Harper was also looking forward to meeting with team representatives so that they could learn more about him as a person.

"I am a leader. At Clemson, I was voted team captain two years in a row. That's something that means a lot to me," he said. "At the quarterback position, first and foremost, you have to be a leader and have the respect of your peers. And I've proven that I'm able to do that no matter where I go. 

"And then there's what I bring to the table as a player. I'm a guy who can go out and make the plays, lead a team and do what it takes to win a ballgame. In the past, I feel like I've done a really good job of protecting the football and made sound decisions. With the accuracy that I've had over the past couple of years, I think I'd be a great addition to any team."

Over the last two seasons, Harper has completed 63.4 percent of his throws for 5,592 yards, 40 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. 


Even though he lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, LSU linebacker Darry Beckwith didn't pay much attention to the Tigers during his early football years.

"Growing up, I was a big Florida State and Florida fan. I really wasn't that interested in LSU," he told Scout.com. "The year Coach Saban and the team won the Sugar Bowl against Illinois, that's when I really started paying attention to them. 

"After the national championship game that they won, he offered me a scholarship, and since it was someone that I knew and it was only five minutes from where I was living, it was a place I knew where I could grow that was also on the rise. So it was a perfect fit."

Beckwith, who just returned from the NFL Combine, likes his chances for success at the next level.

"Compared to most linebackers, I think I'm pretty athletic," he said. "I have great range that goes from sideline to sideline, and I think I have the ability to cover very well also. I'm versatile, I can play outside or the middle position, and I bring a lot of speed.


Alabama QB John Parker Wilson knew that the NFL Combine was an important step to his future pro career. He was particularly looking forward to the opportunity to be interviewed by NFL clubs.


Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

"You can only see so much on tape. When you get a guy in the room, you can tell what kind of leader he is and what kind of player he is," Wilson explained. "During an interview, you can show how smart you are and how well you know the game.

"Playing in the SEC, we see a lot of different defenses. And even going against our own guys in practice we see a lot of different stuff. So that helped me out a lot, along with the experience of starting for three years."

As he looked back on his final collegiate season, the 6-foot-2, 219-pound quarterback felt that he learned some valuable lessons that will help him continue to develop as a professional football player.

"I think this year, more than any other year, I made really good decisions," he said. "I learned that you don't have to try to win the game on every play or every time you throw. You just take what they give you. Learning that helped me grow a lot this year."

During his three seasons as a starter, Wilson completed 56.5 percent of his throws for 7,796 yards, 44 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.


LSU fullback Quinn Johnson is highly skilled at clearing a path for a ball-carrier, but he wants to be seen as much more than a bruising fullback at the pro level.  

"I think I was pretty good at catching passes before, but I didn't get a chance to show it much at LSU. So I decided to work on it more during this off-season to make sure everything was brushed-up to par," he told Scout.com.

Johnson is a selfless player who simply wants to do whatever it takes to help his team win a football game.

"I'll do anything I can to help my team," he said. "I feel like I have to get my job done at all costs and no matter what. I've played on field goal, I've played on punt, I played on kickoff returns, so it really and truly doesn't matter where you put me on the football field as long as I get to play.

"I'm definitely a hard worker, and I'm real tough on the field. I'm willing to do anything and everything it takes to get the job done on and off the field."

Johnson carried the ball just 14 times for 28 yards and three scores during the 2008 season, but his ability to blow-up a would-be tackler with his blocking ability and his special teams work is sure to be attractive to NFL clubs.

Click the player names to learn more about Rashad Johnson, Cullen Harper, Darry Beckwith, John Parker Wilson, and Quinn Johnson.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter for NFL updates and insights. And you can contact him by email through this link.



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