Just fractions of a second behind the 40-yard dash time he was looking for, Dominique Johnson will settle for the respectable mark he put up at Cal Poly’s pro day and hope the skills he’s shown as a big target can get him drafted in the NFL.
One of three former Cal Poly football players to work out in front of NFL scouts on the artificial turf at the Upper Sports Complex on Friday morning, Johnson was clocked with a best time of 4.60 seconds, slightly faster than the 4.62 he ran in a private workout for scouts at his former high school Monday.
The former UCLA transfer, who measured 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, was hoping to break into the 4.5 range in his final planned test before the NFL Draft begins April 28.
“It’s decent,” Johnson said. “It’s not the fastest that I’ve ever run, but I don’t feel bad about the workout at all. I improved my vert about two full inches and (standing) broad jump, I improved from about 9-10 to 10-2.
At 371⁄2 inches, Johnson had the best vertical leap of the trio of Mustangs, which also included linebacker Marty Mohamed (341⁄2), who ran a personal best 4.69 in the 40, and fellow receiver Eric Gardley (361⁄2).
In front of scouts from the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers, Gardley had the fastest 40 at 4.40, a mark that was equaled by cornerback Asa Jackson in a later speed test for returning seniors administered by a representative from the Tennessee Titans.
Running back Mark Rodgers was the next fastest at 4.46, and Jarred Houston, who moves from running back to receiver this spring, ran a 4.53. The graduates also performed the pro shuttle, three-cone drill and 60-yard shuttle.
“I improved in all of my numbers,” Johnson said. “I didn’t quite hit the 40 time that I was aiming for, but it happens for whatever reason, and talking to these guys out there, it doesn’t make or break you so to speak. It’s just a barometer they use.”
With the current labor unrest in the NFL, there is an emphasis on having the piece of mind of being drafted over the uncertainty of being a rookie free agent, especially if players and owners sides have a prolonged dispute, and scouts said Johnson is currently on the bubble.
Having seen only limited film of Johnson catching passes in Cal Poly’s run-heavy triple-option offense, an important aspect to the workout was likely the route running and receiving drills.
Scouts no longer had to take Mustangs head coach Tim Walsh’s word that Johnson has some of the best hands he’s ever been around. They saw for themselves.
“He’s represented himself well in terms of the physical testing,” said Bills scout Rashaan Curry, a former defensive lineman at Columbia in the late 1990s who has spent a decade scouting for Buffalo, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals, “and I think he has a good shot to be drafted to be honest with you.
“The biggest strength is his size, and he does a good job playing with his size, catching the ball. He can shield guys off and frame the ball pretty good, and that’s what we look for in our league. We play with big guys.”
Johnson came back to campus with some added bulk. Since graduating with a degree in history this December, the former Moreno Valley Valley View High standout has been working out with a personal trainer in Phoenix known for working with current NFL stars Darelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, Roddy White and Vincent Jackson.
With the added weight and lower-body strength, Johnson has not had to sacrifice any speed or agility.
“I thought I was going to weigh in at 223, 224, but that’s a good thing,” Johnson said. “If I can feel that I’m that light but actually weigh in at 230 and look the part, that’s big for me, being heavier and playing like I’m light.”