Dennis Johnson has some qualities that I like too, but he simply has to do a better job of holding on to the football. His ball security issues are a huge liability, to the point it's more concerning for me than any other back in this draft along with Johnathan Franklin. Backs that fumble constantly worry the hell out of me.
It's interesting that both Arkansas backs Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson are somewhat prolific fumblers. Of the two, Knile Davis fumbled at least twice as much as Dennis Johnson in 2012.
Dennis Johnson has lost three fumbles this year, one on a carry, one on a catch and one on a kick return. He fumbled twice more, one on a carry and one on a kick return, and recovered them both himself. In 2011 he lost three fumbles, all on carries. He fumbled twice more (one on a catch) but didn't lose them.
Considering he's touched the ball about 330 times in the two years combined, having lost 6 fumbles is not good, but I'm not sure I'd call it epidemic. And I do see some progress in that he fumbled four times on carries in 2011 but only twice on carries in 2012.
Knile Davis is the one you've got to worry about there, IMO.
They both have fumble issues. Knile Davis has been a disaster this year all the way around. He's fumbled 8 times just this season.
Dennis Johnson has fumbled 5 times this year. He fumbled 5 times last year. The problem is that he kills his team when he does. He fumbled inside the 5 yardline against LSU this past game when Arkansas was going in to score on their first drive, and it sucked all the momentum from Arkansas. He did the same thing last year against LSU when he had a game changing fumble.
His fumbled against South Carolina again inside the 5 yardline that changed the game. Him and Knile both fumbled all over the place against Alabama, but those didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Bama was going to blow 'em out either way.
If you just look at it in terms of statistics on a sheet of paper they're worrisome, but they're easier to dismiss. But when you watch 'em happen and how they change the momentum of games, they tend to stick with you.
At least Franklin appears to have cleaned his fumbling issues up somewhat from previous years.
I believe ball security can be fixable to an extent through coaching, although I just hate to see it be that big of an issue... especially for Senior backs.... although you can't fix small hands.
Dennis Johnson can be a nice contributing back in my estimation. I like his balance, thick lower half, and low center of gravity to go along with his versatility as a returner and receiver. He's a natural pass catcher with soft hands out of the backfield. He'll surprise you with how good he is in pass protection too.
But putting the ball on the ground constantly will find your butt on the bench, particularly if you tend to do it in key situations that change the game and hurt your team. That's just the way it is.
That's why he hasn't been used as much during his career as you'd think... momentum killing fumbles. I like the kid though. I hope he fixes it.
I saw the fumble on the catch against LSU and I saw the one on the kick return earlier in the year. I appreciate that some of these fumbles killed momentum and/or really impacted the game but in my opinion that result is completely non-correlated with the tendency to fumble. Any time a ball carrier fumbles, it could be the margin of the game.
I think it's the opposite. Even if you're watching the fumbles and see them live, and are therefore able to appreciate the impact of the fumbles, you have to separate that from the analysis in my opinion. You have to reduce it down to numbers.
The LONE exception (to me) is in situations in which you're carrying the football with a lead, trying to run out the clock, and the situation makes it clear that ball security takes absolute precedence over yard gaining. Ball security always takes precedence obviously, so let's not start in on any speeches here, but I think it does mean something when you're up by a touchdown with 3 minutes left on the clock and you're calling carries just to run out as much clock as possible, and you fumble the ball. It's not so much a ball security observation, as it is a mental observation, in that situation.
Overall I do remember fumbling being an issue early in Dennis Johnson's career with Arkansas and I do remember it being one reason he wasn't favored (though how they end up favoring Knile Davis over Dennis Johnson on the basis of tendency to fumble is still baffling to me). It is disturbing that he never got it fully corrected, and I can't say with certainty that he showed progress by only fumbling two times on his 137 carries in his senior year. Just the way you mentioned it being more concerning for him than for any other back in this draft made it seem like he fumbles more than he actually does. I was far more concerned with David Wilson's propensity toward fumbling than I am Dennis Johnson's.
I highly doubt he falls, but if Giovani Bernard is sitting around in the third, I'm drafting him and not apologizing for it.
If Giovani Bernard enters the Draft (and I would think he would considering he's got two years of being 'the man' under his belt already) then he most assuredly will be the highest rated RB in the Draft. There will be GMs and scouts that remain uncomfortable with Andre Ellington's lack of size. Not that Bernard is huge or anything but he's built more soundly than Ellington.
The fates seem conspired to pound on the quarterbacks in this year's draft, not just because most of them tripped all over themselves during the college season but also because a ridiculous number of quarterbacks were drafted high in 2011 and 2012. Because of that, you could see some other players pushed up a little higher...perhaps Giovani Bernard among them. I liken him to Doug Martin as a prospect but the fact of the matter is he might be a better prospect than Doug was, though not necessarily a better pro.
Giovani Bernard should declare. I think he's ready to contribute immediately at the next level. A true 3 down back.
He reminds me of Tiki Barber when he came out of Virginia, except Bernard is better than Tiki was in college. Barber developed into an outstanding pro once he got his fumbling issues corrected, and was a better pro than he was a college player.
Given the talent I expect to be there when we draft, I'd expect us to go DE or CB in the 1st - maybe WR if K. Allen is there, or if we're high on T. Williams. To my eyes, Williams has elite movement skills for a WR his size. Outstanding acceleration. Reminds me of TO or A. Johnson in that respect. More than maybe any WR in the draft, I see a guy who can take a 5-yard slant to the house.