Josh Johnson

An interesting and inexpensive option to bring in competition at QB for Sanchez next year is Tampa's Josh Johnson. Johnson's a free agent after this year.

He just got his first start in 2 years last week when Freeman went down. He didn't light the world on fire, but he did pretty well -- 16/27, 229 yds, 1 td, 1 int, 5 rushes 45 yds. He hasn't gotten much playing time in Tampa since Freeman's the man there, and what he's done doesn't look much different than Sanchez. But I've seen quite a bit of this guy, and he's intriguing.

He was a 5th round draft pick in 2008 (taken 2 slots ahead of our own immortal Erik Ainge). He is one of the new breed of hyper-athletic QBs. He runs a sub 4.5 40 and would probably be one of the top 3 or 4 running QBs in the NFL, after Vick and Newton. He has a good arm, probably a bit stronger than Sanchez. But what really pops out at you are his college stats. Check out this scouting report coming out of college:

"Johnson is the most intriguing quarterback at this week's NFL Scouting Combine and one of the most intriguing players, period. A star at the University of San Diego, he put up such astonishing numbers that pro clubs are beginning to wonder if he's too good to ignore.

And the answer is, yes, he is.

"It wouldn't shock me if he's a first-day pick," said Billy Devaney, the Rams' executive vice president in charge of player personnel. "He absolutely dominated at the (Division 1-AA level) and did everything you want at the most important position."

He has that right. Last season Johnson threw 43 touchdown passes, with one interception. In 2006, he had 34 touchdown passes and five interceptions. And in 2005 he was 36 and eight.

Do the math. That's 113 TDs and 14 interceptions in three years. He was 31-4 as a starter. He had a career efficiency rating of 176.8. He threw at least four touchdown passes in 15 of his last 26 games.

"And that kind of productivity," said San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike Martz, "you can't dismiss."

Of course, the knock on him is that he didn't play against big-time competition, but so what? I'm with Martz. How do you dismiss those numbers? You don't, and there are a lot of people coming around to the guy after he was named Offensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game."

That 176.8 career efficiency rating? The best in the history of NCAA football at any level. And that senior year 43 TDs, 1(!) INT? Also the most efficient NCAA single season at any level.

Now all that success came at the 1AA level, so it doesn't directly translate, but still -- wow!

Bottom line, he is an accurate, super athletic QB with a good arm who has never gotten the chance at the pro level, and probably never will in Tampa unless Freeman goes through another season next year like he did this year. At best, he might just win the starting job with us. At worst, he provides a very good backup if Sanchez goes down, one with actual NFL experience, and he provides some real competition for Sanchez.

So what do you think -- should we try to sign Johnson as a free agent this offseason?

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