Last year, Josh Johnson threw 43 touchdown passes and just one interception in 10 games for the University of San Diego. No matter the level of competition, those numbers are hard to ignore.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ensured that Johnson wouldn't be ignored past the fifth round in Sunday's NFL Draft, grabbing the athletic passer with the 160th overall selection. Tampa Bay had traded down seven spots from the 153rd pick before using their fifth-rounder on a position at which they seemed to be set heading into 2008.
Of course, Johnson is intriguing in more of a long-term success, as his small-school roots and on-the-run game indicate he will be something of a project. Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden enjoys the challenge of helping young quarterbacks develop, so he was surely thrilled to land Johnson even though his QB corps already includes Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, Luke McCown, Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski.
The 6-2, 201-pound Johnson is an exceptional runner for a quarterback, as evidenced by his 1,846 career rushing yards at San Diego. He topped 720 yards on the ground each of the last two seasons and scored 13 rushing touchdowns in that span.
However, Johnson also possesses an NFL-caliber arm and outstanding field vision, and is thus far more than just a scrambler. During his tenure at San Diego, he completed 724 of 1,065 passes (68.0%) for 9,699 yards, 113 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. During his senior campaign, Johnson threw for just under 300 yards per game.
Johnson's career passing efficiency of 167.68 set a new NCAA record, and his 113 touchdown passes rank fourth on the NCAA Subdivision all-time chart. His total yardage mark (rushing and passing) of 4,040 in 2006 ranks as the 15th-best total in NCAA history.
Johnson is the first quarterback the Buccaneers have drafted in the fifth round or higher since 2003, when they used their third-round selection on Simms. Two years ago, Tampa Bay used a sixth-round pick on Gradkowski, who eventually started 10 games in his rookie campaign after an injury to Simms.
The Buccaneers have two picks remaining, the 175th overall selection in the sixth round and the 238th overall pick in Round Seven.