On Wednesday afternoon at the 2015 Scouting Combine, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman took the stage to discuss his team, and he fielded numerous questions about Adrian Peterson and the front office's desire to bring him back to Minnesota next season.
While that is probably not a big surprise to Packers fans, one player who was a surprise in 2014 to fans in Green Bay and Minnesota, as well as to Spielman himself, was wide receiver Charles Johnson.
Johnson, of course, was a seventh-round draft choice of the Packers' in 2013, and was claimed by the Cleveland Browns off the Packers' practice squad midway through his rookie season. The story goes that upon his physical in Cleveland, the team found that he had torn his ACL and put him on injured reserve in the hopes that he could return and contribute in 2014.
Johnson did contribute in the NFL last season, but only after being claimed off the Browns' practice squad by Minnesota. He ended up playing in 12 games last season for Minnesota, catching 31 balls for nearly 500 yards and two scores. On Wednesday, we asked Spielman what he thought of Johnson's impact in 2014 and what his expectations are for the young receiver in 2015.
Here's Spielman's response:
I give credit to our pro scouts and our pro director Ryan Monnens and George Paton. We followed him through the preseason. Scott Turner had actually coached him in Chicago and Norv (Turner) had familiarity with him the year before (in Cleveland) when he was on their practice squad and there was an opportunity to go out there and get him.
It was a pleasant surprise. I wish I couldn't tell you hey, we got some guy off their practice squad that ended up having that significant of an impact on our offense, especially a young player like that who's only been the league for his second year and his first year actually playing. We're very excited about his potential and his ability and where he's going to end up and his ability to ascend.
Based on that description, it's entirely possible that if not for Norv Turner taking over the Vikings' offense last season, Johnson might still be in Cleveland fighting for a chance to make the team. Luckily for the young receiver, the Vikings took a chance on him and he appears to have a home on an NFL roster for the foreseeable future. His speed and size should make him an interesting down-field threat for the Vikings this season. Furthermore, Spielman and company.
But for the Packers, Johnson indeed appears to be the "fish that got away."