Kerryon Johnson 2018 NFL Draft Profile

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Overview
Position: Running back
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 212 pounds
School: Auburn Tigers

Combine Performance Data
Bench press: 11 reps
Vertical jump: 40 inches (second among running backs)
Broad jump: 10 feet, 6 inches (third among running backs)
Three-cone drill: 7.07 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.29 seconds

Kerryon Johnson 2018 NFL Draft Profile

A consensus top-five running back recruit out of high school, Kerryon Johnson was the fourth commit of Gus Malzahn‘s 2015 recruiting class that Rivals rated as seventh best in the nation. He won Alabama’s Mr. Football award the year before, scoring six touchdowns in the state title game and winning his third consecutive state title at Madison Academy. As a true freshman, he saw scant time in the backfield finishing fourth on the team with 208 rushing yards. But he did make an impact on special teams, finishing third in yards per kick return among SEC players with a minimum of ten attempts.

Johnson’s role in the Tigers’ run game gradually expanded over the next two seasons. He led the team with 11 touchdowns in 2016 and only Kamryn Pettway exceeded his yardage total on the ground. Then, in what would be his final season in an Auburn uniform, he registered a team-leading 1,391 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. The former total led the SEC as well while the latter ended up number two behind Kentucky’s Benny Snell. He also demonstrated some promise as a pass catcher, hauling in two touchdown receptions.

2017 certainly saw Johnson accomplish some impressive feats and receive recognition for them in the process. In a three-game span early in the season, he found the end zone 11 times and rushed for 204 yards against Ole Miss. One of his eight 100+ games of the year came in the team’s biggest win of the year against in-state rival Alabama. A week later, he shook off shoulder and rib injuries to try and will his team to a College Football Playoff appearance. His exploits led to the SEC naming him its offensive player of the year.

Strengths

  • exhibits exceptional change of pace and plus instincts;
  • knows when to be patient in letting openings develop and when to hit the hole hard;
  • showed immense toughness and grit playing through injuries;
  • has the downfield vision to make would-be tacklers miss in space;
  • consistent scoring threat in goal-line situations both in conventional and wildcat packages;
  • few concerns over his ability to take care of the football;
  • a viable third-down back with value¬†as a pass catcher and blocker;
  • allowed one pressure on a total of 57 pass blocking snaps in 2017;
  • can make an impact on special teams.

Weaknesses

  • static hips make him an overly linear runner with limited lateral twitch;
  • doesn’t have the breakaway speed to consistently beat pursuing tacklers to the end zone on long runs;
  • average ability to generate yards after contact;
  • needs to play with more lower body drive to keep plays alive;
  • will have to expand his route-running capabilities to maximize his pass-catching potential;
  • body might have issues holding up if given high week-to-week workloads;
  • could face steep learning curve adjusting to pro-style concepts;

NFL Comparison: Devontae Booker

Teams With Need at Position: Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins

Projection: Mid second round

Bottom Line

Johnson certainly has a knack for finding the end zone. It shows in the fact that he finished just 12 touchdowns short of Bo Jackson‘s career total at Auburn in three years, one of which saw him utilized sparingly. He caught fire as a junior and, as a result, decided to put his name into the draft with a year of eligibility left. Oftentimes, players jump the gun in that regard but in his case, it could pay dividends. Johnson’s combination of toughness, elusiveness in space and every-down capability could see him compete for starter reps immediately. He just has to prove he can grasp NFL concepts and not break down from the physicality he’ll see at the next level. But put him behind a competent offensive line in a backfield with an already proven veteran and you could have the next Mark Ingram/Alvin Kamara combo.

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