Texas’ Roschon Johnson is a ‘god’ — but can he play RB for the Bears?

The Bears drafted a Texas running back — but not Bijan Robinson.

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NFL Combine

The Bears drafted Texas running back Roschon Johnson on Saturday.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The best running back in this draft — or any draft in the last five years — extolled the virtues of his college backup, Roschon Johnson, at the NFL Scouting Combine in March.

“Roschon is a god,” Texas’ Bijan Robinson said then.

Robinson, who was drafted eighth overall Thursday night, called Johnson the best teammate he ever had.

“He brings out so much in a player and the team just with how he goes about being a leader,” Robinson said. “Not just his teammates but everybody in the community. . . . His toughness and heart make him stand out over everybody.”

The Bears didn’t go as far as Robinson did when explaining why they drafted Johnson in Round 4 on Saturday — but they came close. Bears Southwest area scout John Syty said he had never written such a positive evaluation of a player’s character.

“This human being is wired differently,” Syty said Saturday. “The more time you spend around him, the more you realize that you are probably the one who has things you need to work on, not him. . . .

“He’s someone we really feel compelled can become a pillar of this organization for a really long time.”

The Bears picked Johnson at No. 115 overall after trading the first pick of Round 4 to the Saints. They got No. 165 for their troubles, recouping a pick one day after dealing a fifth-rounder to move up and draft Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson.

“[Johnson] is a guy I was shocked was still on the board,” general manager Ryan Poles said.

He has one of the most bizarre résumés in the draft. Johnson was recruited to play quarterback but moved to running back a week before his freshman season opener. In the era of name, image and likeness payments, he could have gone elsewhere once Robinson arrived. He didn’t.

“My motive wasn’t really for money,” he said.

He started only five games in college thanks to Robinson, the all-world running back who spent the last three years at Texas. Johnson was an honorable mention All-Big 12 player last season nonetheless, averaging six yards per carry and playing on every kick unit. The Bears considered him one of the draft’s best special-teams players.

“I never really viewed myself as, like, a backup,” said Johnson, who was worked out by Bears running backs coach David Walker at his pro day in March. “Regardless of who was getting the carries, I tried to prepare myself as if I was the starter. I didn’t really let the perspective of me being a backup have an effect on me. . . .

“I just kinda flipped my perspective, and I think it paid off.”

He’s no scrawny underdog, though. At 6 feet and 219 pounds, Johnson is a physical runner and a willing pass-blocker. He forced missed tackles on 45% of his runs the last two years, according to Pro Football Focus, which led all running backs with at least 190 carries.

“Fits this division to a T,” Syty said. “Powerful. Physical.”

As an added bonus, he comes to the Bears with little tread on his tires. He ran 269 times the last three years. David Montgomery, by contrast, ran 624 times in the three years before the Bears drafted him in Round 3 in 2019.

The Bears envision Johnson contributing to a backfield that already features bruising veteran D’Onta Foreman and home-run hitter Khalil Herbert. He could even function as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation, given his history.

“I think he increases the competition in the running back room,” Poles said. “But the cool thing about it is if you watch Texas tape, he does a lot. He pass-protects really well. That stands out. He’s done some quarterback stuff. He came out of high school as a quarterback. So this is going to allow our offensive staff to maybe do some really cool things with him and keep a defense on its toes.”

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