Bob Quinn has traded up from pick 51 to pick 43, there is still talent left, let’s see what transpires.
Nate Burleson: “…With the 43rd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select; running back Kerryon Johnson, Auburn.”
Now, the pick may have seemed puzzling to some at the time, let’s explore exactly why he was worth the pick, and even trading up for.
Kerryon Johnson’s game is very reminiscent of another former 2nd round pick – Le’veon Bell.
Before you call me crazy, watch the tape. His play style highlights balance, vision, patience, and precise cuts blended together with quickness and power. Who does that sound like to you?
Now, I know Le’veon was seen as a bruiser coming out, and he was 6-1 230. Their body type isn’t drastically different. Kerryon is 6-0 around 215. If he can add another 5-10 pounds without losing speed it could be a nasty combination of size, speed, and power. Kerryon lacks the weight but makes up for it with speed, he ran a 4.5 40 compared to Bell’s 4.6.
Let’s be real for a second, I am by no means telling you he is the next Le’veon Bell, but one could hope, right?
Kerryon has many facets to his game. He is a natural pass catcher and he stands his ground in pass protection. His patience and quickness are what really set him apart, and what keeps the motor that is his game, going. He also exhibits one of the most important things, according to Matt Patricia, which is toughness. He has the “never say die” attitude as well as the ability to fight through injury (which he did quite a bit).
Kerryon’s best season came in his last season at Auburn. He ran for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns with 194 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns to pair.
His junior season was not bad either. While splitting carries, he still managed 1,020 yards from scrimmage along with 11 touchdowns on 199 total touches.
One of the biggest takeaways for me was his uncanny ability to read a defender’s body. This is vital for running backs once they get to the second level. This is what makes his jump cuts so deadly. He will take a half-step left, read your body, and cut right while leaving you confused and embarrassed. He always seems to keep churning forward to pick up the extra yard or two as well.
WHAT TO WORK ON
Now, Kerryon is by no means perfect either. In the film I watched, he seems to run upright too often and has some hip issues in pass protection. Also, he seems to leave his feet too often when searching for a hole. Sometimes it works and sometimes he gets knocked down by the defender pushing the lineman into him. All of these can be worked on.
With his selection, I do believe the Lions are looking to run more zone schemes as well as 2 running back sets. Also, it will be a running game by committee approach this coming season.
Expect a revamped run game to help this offense explode. Kerryon may not be “the guy” day one, but he will be productive and will most likely take over the reigns sooner than later.
Basically, Kerryon has heaps of potential, what he does with it is to be determined. It all depends on scheme, and how the offensive line gels together, but we will see how it all goes down soon enough.