A consistent runner who served as a touchdown machine for Auburn during his junior season, Kerryon Johnson was one of the running backs who helped his stock the most at the Scouting Combine. The 5-11, 213-pound back tested terrifically in the explosiveness tests, jumping a 40-inch vertical and a 10-6 broad. He then added the final piece of the puzzle at the Tigers’ pro day, running a more-than-fine 4.49 40-yard dash.
While he finds himself in a wonderfully deep class, Johnson may get some day two buzz as a result of his successful pre-draft process up to this point. With good size and explosiveness, Johnson looks the part of a three-down running back.
Johnson’s athleticism lends itself to his natural position and beyond, with the back lining up as a wildcat quarterback, split out wide and serving as a kick returner at times. He has good change of direction and fluidity for a runner with a relatively up-right stance. Johnson is able to bounce inside runs - where he is at his best - to the outside with regularity.
First cut is absolutely gorgeous and i love the audacity to try to bounce it all the way pic.twitter.com/Pq6UddJdVf— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 13, 2018
Johnson is an intelligent runner with good patience and vision in the backfield. He doesn’t press behind the line of scrimmage and makes the correct reads. Playing as a wildcat quarterback inside his opponent’s five-yard line, Johnson has a good nose for the end zone and will be effective in short yardage situations immediately.
Good patience by Kerryon Johnson waiting for the guard to come across, then a good read into the second level pic.twitter.com/yiXRPaGjkP— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 13, 2018
Matt Asiata over here scored 4 touchdowns from the wildcat in this game, 5 total! pic.twitter.com/GN85a2Nqbr— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 13, 2018
At his best running inside and going downhill, Johnson has great burst for a runner of his build. He gets through the line of scrimmage with great pace and arrives at the second-level with a head full of steam. When changing directions or making cuts, Johnson’s able to accelerate quickly.
No hesitation and good burst going north-south, shrugs off a tackler like their name is Jabari Greer pic.twitter.com/S0cD3BnjEj— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 13, 2018
Finish/Yards After Contact
Despite running high and giving defenders a large target, Johnson finishes his runs well, putting his shoulder into defenders. He is a tough runner able to shake off defenders in the hole when going north-south. A plus, his goal line intuition translates to the end of his runs with the back plunging forward. Johnson finishes his runs with both hands on the football and looks comfortable switching hands. At Auburn, he had a fumble rate of 191.3, well above average among running backs in this year’s draft.
And finishes forward for a couple extra -- i really like Johnson as an inside runner pic.twitter.com/azSNccBBa6— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 13, 2018
Johnson wasn’t used with any sort of regularity in the passing game at Auburn, averaging just 18 catches per season, but he is a natural receiver. Reliable hands with a large catch radius, Johnson can be used in a variety of ways out of the backfield. After the catch, Johnson is fluid turning up-field and can make defenders miss in space. As a blocker, Johnson is as clean as they come in this draft class: Able to anchor and engage defenders from all three levels, he shouldn’t have a problem playing on third downs as a rookie.
Overall, Kerryon Johnson represents one of the most complete running backs among the second tier. Effective on inside and outside runs, as well as in the passing game, Johnson could see the field on any given down immediately. Johnson should give his team a ton of snaps as early as Week One and could be a surprise workhorse as a rookie.