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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

NFL Draft Scouting Report: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

Kerryon Johnson - Auburn

 

Position: RB

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 212 lbs.

Year: Junior

Hometown: Huntsville, AL

Experience: 2-Year Starter

 

Measurables:

40yd dash: DNP

Broad jump: 126 in.

Vertical: 40 in.

3-cone: 7.07s

20yd. Shuttle: 4.29s

Bench Press: 11 reps

 

Career Notes: (3-5 paragraphs)

For three years at Auburn, Johnson was the model of consistency. As a freshman in 2015 he saw limited snaps, but put together a respectable season as a rotational back for the Tigers’ up-tempo offense. He was able to make a larger impact and shine in the kick return game, where he averaged over 25 yards per return.

As a sophomore, Johnson continued as a rotational back and gradually took over the starting role about halfway through the season. His production in the return game slid downhill a bit, but he made up for that slide by averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He also took care of business off the field, landing a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

In his junior year, Johnson was the clear-cut #1 running back for the Tigers. He maintained his 4.9 yards per carry average while toting the rock on almost 300 rushing attempts. He was recognized as an All-SEC third-teamer and as the SEC’s offensive player of the year by the Associated Press and coaches.

 

Injury Report:

Johnson has had two shoulder surgeries so far: one to repair a torn labrum in high school and one following his freshman season at Auburn for unspecified reasons.

In his sophomore year, he was a little dinged up and missed a couple games due to a high ankle sprain.

As a junior, he pulled a hamstring in Auburn’s season-opener that sidelined him for the second half of the game. He played through rib and shoulder injuries in the Iron Bowl at the end of the season, and was able to play the entire bowl game against UCF to cap off his Auburn career.

 

Career Stats: https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/kerryon-johnson-1.html

 

Analysis:

Speed/Quickness 2.5/5.0: Johnson’s athleticism was often a worry against top-tier speed and agility. He did not separate from the fastest players on the field against rivals in the SEC. His jukes, jumpcuts, and spin moves rarely got him free from open field tacklers. Even defenders who were being blocked could react in time to bring him down. He had one good cut every play that would get him to the gap he desired. His burst through the gap was impressive when he committed to a running lane. Against 6-man boxes, his burst all but guaranteed him three or four yards.

Vision 3.5/5.0: The SEC Championship game against Georgia was as good as it got for Johnson as far as manipulating defenders and reading gaps. He forced defensive standout, Roquan Smith, into compromising positions a couple times which neutralized the linebacker’s speed and reactions. That high-level ability to read showed up a few times every game. Johnson also made numerous questionable reads. Aware of his athletic limits, he rarely tried to do to much, but sometimes he passed up on making an extra cut to the open field and settled for a handful of yards rather than gaining larger chunks. All totaled, the good reads definitely outweighed the bad.

Power 4.0/5.0: Given some of KJ’s killer stiffarms, it was odd to see his lackluster showing on bench press at the combine. His 11 reps are not indicative of his true strength. Besides having an impressive punch, his strength to run through contact made him dangerous in the open field. When he got through a hole, his momentum would carry him at least two yards past the first contact any defender made. He played with intensity whether he was carrying the ball or blocking in the pass game. His ferocity and technique as a blocker earned his quarterbacks a lot of extra time in the pocket.

Pass receiving 2.5/5.0: Johnson was not called on to do much in the pass game in his time at Auburn. He was mostly a release valve on swing routes and check-and-release assignments. His ability to separate from linebackers was hit-or-miss. Johnson did not drop many passes, but he did have an awkward transfer from catching to carrying the ball that cost him time on every reception. Some of that seems to have been due to poorly placed passes behind him.

Ball security 5.0/5.0: Losing the ball was never an issue for Johnson. The few fumbles he had were wild anomalies. He always kept the ball tight to his body, even when spinning, juking, and hurdling. The ball was an extension of himself at all times. Even in Auburn’s option-heavy offense, Johnson never suffered loose handoffs because he was so strong with the ball.

Summary: The comparisons to Le’veon Bell are understandable in terms of both runners’ patience, but that is about the only way in which the backs resemble each other. KJ was his own kind of runner for two years: powerful, decisive, and he maxed out limited physical gifts. In 2017, Johnson showed a ton of maturity and took what the defense gave him. He left a lot to be desired in terms of what he created with his vision for most of his time with the Tigers. Towards the end of the year, however, he showed some flashes of real creativity and next-level vision. In the open field, he was not a speedster, nor was he light afoot. He was a physical runner who could stand to tighten up his cuts and spins. He was as strong of a pass blocker as any running back in this class, and he was never a liability for turnovers or silly mistakes. For three years, he was reliable to get yards and physically punish defenses.

Overall Grade 3.5/5.0

 

If drafted by the Packers:

Johnson would fall in line with the kind of runner Green Bay has brought in on day three of the draft for the last few years. To borrow an analogy from baseball: among a class of possible home run hitters at running back, KJ is an on-base-percentage safety net. He sees the field well enough, he makes solid decisions with quickness, and occasionally he can make chicken salad out of chicken-bleep when blocking breaks down. Between Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, Green Bay does not have the strongest, most reliable backfield blockers next to Rodgers. Johnson would sure that up immediately. Coming from a fast-paced zone-read offense, he should naturally grow into a rotational role early in his career with the Packers. He would bring the length and strength of James Starks in a more squat frame, comparable to Brandon Jackson. As Packer fans, we have seen this player before, we have grown to love this player before, and we will send this kind of player off with well-wishes when his days in green and gold are done. The pick would not be a splash in the fifth round or later, but KJ would oil the offense’s gears.

 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (7) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

David Aures's picture

No thanks!!!!

The TKstinator's picture

Kerryon my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

marpag1's picture

I prefer to call him "Hand Luggage."

EdsLaces's picture

This kid WAS their offense. Great runner no matter what the stupid measurables are.

Finwiz's picture

Why?
Pass

PETER MAIZ's picture

We.ve got running backs that are very good, let's get areas of need first, if possible.

will121's picture

haha. nice!

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