Washington football: Huskies lose another offensive weapon to the NFL draft

Dillon Johnson, Washington's top running back, joins the Huskies dynamic receiver trio in the 2024 NFL draft.
Washington Huskies running back Dillon Johnson (7)
Washington Huskies running back Dillon Johnson (7) / Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

The passing game was the focal point of the Washington offense this season and with Michael Penix Jr. throwing to Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk, and Jalen McMillan, it should have been. However, late in the season with Penix banged up, the offense needed balance and Dillon Johnson provided it. 

Johnson finished the year banged up with multiple injuries in the National Championship game, but still amassed 1,195 yards and 16 touchdowns. Following the national title game loss, the three aforementioned wide receivers have already declared for the 2024 NFL draft, and on Friday, Johnson decided to join them. 

2023 was Johnson’s only season at Washington after three years at Mississippi State. It was also his most productive year, having never racked up more than 500 rushing yards in a season in the SEC. Washington may have had a better chance to win it all had he not injured his knee on Washington's final offense play of the Sugar Bowl, an unfortunate injury that stopped the clock and nearly allowed the Longhorns to win the game.

Gutting out the championship game against Michigan was memorable, but Johnson’s greatest moment came against Caleb Williams and USC. The matchup was billed as Penix vs. Williams, but the Washington run game and Johnson stole the show. Johnson ran the ball 26 times for 256 yards and four touchdowns. 

While Odunze and maybe even Polk will be first-rounders, Johnson will likely fall into the middle rounds, as most running backs do. Johnson’s declaration came as more of a surprise, so he is not on many of the industry draft rankings.

Rome Odunze declares for the NFL draft. Rome Odunze declares for the NFL draft. dark. Next