UCLA’s all-time leading rusher Johnathan Franklin forced to retire after neck injury

At 24 years old, Johnathan Franklin’s career is already over.

UCLA’s all-time leading rusher will retire from the NFL after just one season, his career ended by a neck injury that sidelined him in Week 12 last year. The 5-foot-11 back was drafted in the fourth round in 2013 — lower than both he and many analysts expected — but was nonetheless overjoyed to head to the Green Bay Packers.

However, Franklin only carried the ball 19 times for a touchdown and 107 yards — 103 of which came in a Sept. 22 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Continue reading

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Johnathan Franklin: ‘It’s a blessing’

Johnathan Franklin joined defensive end Datone Jones in Green Bay as a fourth-round draft pick, and could end up being a better back than second-round Packers’ pick Eddie Lacy. Here’s a quick, post-draft Q&A with Franklin, one that caught him while his voice was still shaky with emotion.

Q: How does it feel to finally get drafted?

Words can’t describe how I feel right now. It’s a blessing. I’ve been in tears for the past 15, 20 minutes. It’s been my dream my whole life. My whole life. It’s what I’ve been waking up thinking about every day. Every day! I’m excited to play. I’m excited to go to the NFL. I love football. I didn’t just wanna get there, I wanna stay there. So I can’t wait to go up there and work and be used.

Q: Are you excited to be reunited with Datone Jones? Continue reading

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Johnathan Franklin’s draft wait ends, joins Datone Jones in Green Bay

Johnathan Franklin’s draft wait finally ended at the 125th overall pick, going to Green Bay as the fourth round’s 28th selection. UCLA’s career-leading rusher was the seventh running back off the board, and joined first-round pick Datone Jones as new Packers. It is the first time an NFL team took two Bruins in the same draft since 2006, when Jacksonville took Marcedes Lewis and Maurice Jones-Drew in the first and second rounds.

Franklin’s slide didn’t attract as much attention as USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who also fell to the fourth round, but — widely rated as a top-three tailback — he will likely to be one of the best values of the draft.

“One of the things I love about Franklin is the way he can pass-protect, which is rare,” said NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “When you pay Aaron Rodgers the money you just paid him, you want to protect him.”

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Datone Jones: ‘I feel like I carried a torch’

On Thursday night, defensive end Datone Jones went to the Green Bay Packers as the 26th overall pick in the NFL draft. Here’s a quick Q&A with him done after the pick was announced.

Q: Did you get nervous waiting to be picked?

I knew I could go anywhere from 25 to 32. Once pick 24 came up, I thought I’d be an Indianapolis Colt. I fit really well into that at UCLA. I was pretty sure that I was going to Indy. It didn’t even cross my mind that I was going to Green Bay. Just wanted to happen, the experience of being a first pick, I’m so honored. I just can’t wait to dominate.

Q: How does it feel to break the first round drought? Did you talk to Marcedes Lewis at all leading up to this process?

I just can’t wait to dominate. All the teams that passed up on me before, I’m not going to use them as my motivation, but I just want them to know they missed out on a great pick. I’m going to do as much as I can. I’m going to work as hard as I can so I can bring a championship to Green Bay.

Q: Have you talked to Marcedes Lewis recently? Continue reading

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