Gartrell Johnson was drafted in the fourth round by the San Diego Chargers in 2009. He was inactive for one game, then waived. The Giants claimed him and kept him for almost a year, waiving him three weeks ago.
Johnson stands five-foot-ten and weighs 219 pounds, running a 4.67-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine; his physique is certainly more Turner/Snelling than Norwood.
At Colorado State Johnson was a dual threat, catching 32 passes for 295 yards and running for 1,476 in his senior year. His 375-yard performance in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl is the second-highest total yardage bowl day in NCAA history, behind only the Chris Johnson.
In high school, Johnson broke Willis McGahee’s season rushing record at Miami Springs.
OK, well let me start off by saying I was a big Gartrell Johnson fan. Anyone who saw his bowl game against Fresno State would be, and I watched it live. Here’s as good of a scouting report as I can give on Gartrell:
Gartrell is a power back, through and through. Or at least he will be one some day. The Chargers were holding onto him because they loved his potential, but he really needs to learn to stay low after first contact. Too often he would hit somebody (sometimes his own lineman) and get stood up, then immediately get taken down. His size also makes him less-than-ideal for the power back spot, but the kid runs with strength and hits with violence.
There are negatives in his game though. For one, he has zero speed. I doubt he ever takes a carry for more than 15 yards in his entire NFL career. There were two instances in the preseason where he had nobody in front of him and was caught from behind easily by a LB. The second flaw is patience, which isn’t rare for a rookie. He has a hard time waiting for the hole to develop, partly because he’s almost at full-speed when he gets the ball (I loved that about him), and can ruin plays that way.
If Gartrell can become more patient and stay low to the ground, he has a real future as a goal-line back in the NFL. He wasn’t cut because of anything he did, but rather because the Chargers need bodies for all of the injuries that are stacking up on both lines. Also, Michael Bennett completely and totally outperformed Gartrell in the pre-season.