The Detroit Lions have done a pretty solid job keeping their private visits with this year’s NFL Draft prospects quiet. And according to general manager Bob Quinn, they had only used eight of their 30 draft visits as of Monday.
But you can add another one to the secret list, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Lions met with Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson on Tuesday.
If you’re one of the people who was in favor of the Lions making a run at Le’Veon Bell, Johnson may be your new favorite running back prospect. His patient running style has drawn Bell comparisons by nearly every draft expert you can find.
While Le'Veon Bell's running style is very unique, you can see a similarity in the way Auburn RB and SEC 2017 Offensive Player of the Year Kerryon Johnson runs the football. Very patient behind the line. Full report coming soon. pic.twitter.com/PZzVIMe1Tk— Daniel Valente (@StatsGuyDaniel) February 12, 2018
Looking on the surface, it’s easy to see why those comparisons are made. Johnson has excellent vision and often takes his time before utilizing his impressive burst to blow through even the tiniest of holes. Like Bell, he also is completely fearless in welcoming contact when fighting for those extra yards, despite his modest stature.
However, it’s that fearlessness that has some scouts worried. Johnson has dealt with a handful of injuries during his college career, including a nagging shoulder injury that required minor surgery in 2016 and some rib issues. Still, those injury have only caused him to miss three games during his entire Auburn career, despite being a complete workhorse back in his final year.
The Lions obviously have a long-term need at running back and Johnson has the potential to be a three-down back. He’s above average in pass protection and has hands good enough to be a threat in the passing game, too. Although, he only caught 55 catches in his Auburn career.
If the Lions aren’t thrilled with some of the top running back prospects, or just don’t want to use a first or second round pick on a runner, Johnson could be a solid pickup in the third round, should he fall that low.