This is the 2018 NFL Draft profile on former versatile Auburn University running back Kerryon Johnson. Could he slip through the cracks and fall in the New York Jets lap in the later rounds?
The 2018 NFL Draft class has a ton of solid running backs that will fall into the middle rounds. Of course, Penn State monster Saquon Barkley is the cream of the crop. However, let’s take a look at the strengths, weaknesses, and a New York Jets prediction for another dynamic running back in Kerryon Johnson.
Johnson is no Barkley, but he has the talent and skill that will allow him to succeed in the NFL. He would make sense for the Jets if he is available in Round 3, even with Bilal Powell and newly signed Isaiah Crowell.
Johnson didn’t take part in all activities at the 2018 NFL Combine, but he did perform well in the ones he did do. He had a 40-inch vertical jump, 126-inch broad jump and hammered out 11 reps on the bench press.
The former Auburn tiger also ran a 7.07-second three-cone drill and 4.29-second 20-yard shuttle. He didn’t run the sacred 40-yard dash at the combine, but he ran it at Auburn’s Pro Day. He came away with two times of 4.54 and 4.49 seconds.
Those numbers are strong and helped Johnson bolster his draft stock. Another key for him? He is very solid for a running back. He stands six feet tall and weighs 212 pounds. Johnson played three years in the SEC with Auburn. He didn’t play much his freshman year, but he took more reps as a sophomore and junior.
The 20-year old had his best year in his final season as a junior when he racked up 1,391 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He also had 24 receptions for 194 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
The 2017 SEC Offensive Player of the Year finished his college career with 2,494 rushing yards, 32 rushing touchdowns, 55 receptions, 478 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in his three years. Johnson may go undetected to some teams, but his dominance in college football’s best conference cannot be ignored.
According to NFL.com, Johnson’s strongest part of his game is his agile feet and ability to accelerate for instant bursts through the line. He plays with multiple gears of speed that he uses to his advantage in a variety of situations.
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Johnson isn’t afraid of contact and uses the stiff arm well. He plays with heart, toughness, and desire, which can be seen in his willingness to finish every run. The elusive running back can balance himself after contact and treats every run as if it is his last.
He will lower the shoulder or elude defenders with his agility if need be. His ability to take the rock on all downs, including third, will make him even more dominant.
Another big part of Johnson’s game is his effectiveness in the passing game. He is dominant off of screens and tries to exploit one-on-ones as much as he can. Sound like someone? This is a lofty comparison, but Johnson’s game seems to reflect the style that Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy plays with.
Johnson’s biggest weakness is his running ability. What this means is that he is an upright runner who has a worrisome style of running. Like McCoy, Johnson has a style of running that worries scouts because he doesn’t avoid big hits. This is a concern because his body isn’t big enough to sustain such hits, therefore hindering his durability.
Johnson sometimes will have difficulty adjusting to running lanes and often has issues seeing lane development that his offensive line makes. He gets tough yardage on almost all runs and finds himself getting hit in the backfield sometimes.
Johnson is projected to be a late first, early second round pick. However, it seems as though he will fall into the second behind running backs like Barkley and Sony Michel. Johnson’s running style can be good and bad, but he brings a multi-dimensional game and may be able to be a three-down back for whoever drafts him.
Of course, the former Tiger would be an ideal running back for the Jets, but there doesn’t seem to be any likelihood he falls down into the third round. Johnson may be able to be one of the best two-game running backs in the NFL. He will not be joining Gang Green unless some magic happens on draft day.