Wide receiver Taurus Johnson #89 of the University of South Florida Bulls grabs a pass in the end zone for a touchdown against the Kansas University Jayhawks at Raymond James Stadium on September 12, 2008 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Getty Images North America)
Of the dozen or so undrafted free agents we suspect the Kansas City Chiefs have/will sign, University of South Florida wide reciever Taurus Johnson is probably the most talented of the group.
Coming out of high school in 2005, Johnson was the 35th ranked wide receiver by Rivals and the 45th best prospect coming out of the state of Florida, which is saying quite a bit given the Sunshine State's football pedigree.
Over four seasons a USF Bull, started thirteen games mainly as a #2 receiver to current Chicago Bears WR/KR Deven Hester's cousin, Jessie Hester Jr. Interestingly enough, Hester was not drafted or signed yet by any NFL team.
Johnson's receiving number's weren't very impressive but that's to be expected of an undrafted college free agent.
To put Johnson's stats in perspective of the USF football program, he ranks second all-time in touchdowns and third all-time in both receiving yards and receptions.
Now you didn't think that Scott Pioli and Todd Haley would bring in just a straight up UDFA wide receiver and have him compete? No no. As we're prone to saying around here, versatility is key. Johnson also returned kicks for USF and while he didn't blow away the competition, that added dimension is something that the new Chiefs' enjoy very much.
Check out his kick return stats:
Many draft anaylsis of Johnson have him pegged as a #3 WR, special teams contributor or combination of both in the NFL.
Here's what NFL Draft Scout had to say about Johnson before the draft:
Positives: Good height and build for the position. Adequate deep speed. Adequate feet to gain separation. Secure hands for the reception. Generally catches the ball with his hands, but is a cognitive player who knows when he's going to absorb a big hit and will body-catch to protect the ball. Good balance and body control to make the tough reception. A tendency to make the big reception in critical situations. Good agility to make defenders miss in space. Has experience as a returner (20.1-yard kick return average from 2006-2008).
Negatives: Lacks the straight-line speed to challenge deep and with only adequate burst out of his breaks; will struggle to generate separation against NFL caliber cornerbacks. Exposed in this area a bit during practices at the East-West Shrine Game. Slowed with an ankle injury the last half of 2007.
It's clear after looking at scouting reports on Johnson that one thing held him back from being drafted - his speed. The guy ran a 4.4 second 40-yard dash but nearly every report on him I'm reading echoes what NFL Draft Scout said above - he doesn't have great game speed and has trouble separating from defenders.
If you can't do that in college, you sure as heck can't do that in the NFL.
I don't expect Taurus Johnson to threaten the Kansas City Chiefs' current wide receivers for a #3 or even a #4 spot. The Chiefs currently have nine wide receivers on the roster and 2009 6th round pick Quinten Lawrence also has the kick return dimension to his game.
Here's the big thing Johnson has going for him that is at least a somewhat unique skill - he can make defenders miss in the open field pretty darn well. Check out the video below for evidence.
As much as I'd love to read the PARADE make Ford Taurus jokes for the rest of the season, Taurus Johnson has one of the longest shots of any of the team's UDFAs to make the Kansas City Chiefs 53-man roster.