GREEN BAY—Charles Johnson called his shot. He said he’d run sub-4.4, and he did.
“I was very confident. I focused a lot on my explosion and start. I know I can run fast but I wasn’t sure how fast I could come out of the blocks,” the Packers seventh-round pick said of his pro day, when he validated his opinion of himself with a stunning workout by running in the 4.3s.
Who is this guy? Why didn’t anybody know about him? That 40 time must be wind-aided, right?
No, it was run indoors, he said.
Johnson is 6-3, 215, runs a legit 4.35 and caught 128 passes for 2,229 yards and 31 touchdowns over the last two seasons at Grand Valley State, yet, he wasn’t even invited to the scouting combine.
Draft guru Tony Pauline, who studies hundreds of prospects in anticipation of the draft, admits to having known very little about Johnson, but acknowledges the home run Johnson hit at his pro day.
“He has to show he can play that fast. Grand Valley has a history of having kids that put up huge numbers,” Pauline said.
Doubters; Johnson has many.
“This is a guy who slipped through the cracks,” Pauline said.
“I had never run a 40 before in my life that was official,” Johnson said. “Not being invited to the combine, I had extra time to practice.”
What are the chances the Packers might have struck gold in the seventh round? They did once before when they drafted a skinny kid from Alcorn State. That “kid,” Donald Driver, is now the Packers’ all-time leading receiver.
“They’ll see I run 4.3 when I go to camp. They’ll see I should’ve been drafted earlier than the seventh round,” Johnson said of his doubters. “We thought I’d come off in the fifth round. It’s not about when you get drafted, it’s about getting drafted.”
The best guess as to why Johnson lasted to pick No. 216 involves a combination of reasons, the most logical being that Grand Valley State does not offer a lot of exposure, and this was a receiver-rich draft. Johnson also believes an incident that resulted in him being suspended from Eastern Kentucky and transferring to Grand Valley State hurt his draft stock.
“It was a real minor incident. It was immature. I was guilty by association. I was being good to a friend,” he said.
Johnson will put his talent on display for Packers coaches and media alike on Friday, in the first of three days of rookie camp practices.
“I think I can be a playmaker, a guy a team can rely on. I see myself as being a dominant receiver. If I had played at a Division I school, I believe I’d be a first- or second-rounder,” he said.
“I really relate to Julio Jones. When I watch his film, I see myself a little bit.”
Apparently, Johnson was one of the very few who saw it.