The legal tampering period of free agency is just about 48 hours away, which means the Detroit Lions are about to make a lot of roster decisions both over the weekend and in the week that lies ahead.
While running back isn’t necessarily at the top of the Lions’ needs list, it is a need. With Adrian Peterson headed towards free agency, the Lions currently just have D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson under contract—with Nick Bawden and Jason Cabinda at fullback.
Swift is firmly entrenched as the team’s starter and the new coaching staff wants him on the field as much as possible. But Johnson’s role is rather unclear. Last year, he was clearly No. 3 behind Swift and Adrian Peterson, but on Friday, running backs coach/assistant head coach Duce Staley had high praise for the 23-year-old back.
“What a complete back. Kerryon does it all, man,” Staley told Pride of Detroit on our live podcast. “You turn the film on, he’s up there blocking, and when I say blocking, he’s really trying to finish the guy. You see how aggressive he is. Then you turn the film on, he’s running routes. Then you turn the film on, he’s breaking tackles.”
So could Johnson be promoted to the No. 2 spot? Today’s Question of the Day is:
Should Kerryon Johnson be the Detroit Lions’ RB2 in 2021?
My answer: I wouldn’t mind giving him one last shot.
I believe Staley was being earnest when he called Johnson a do-it-all back. In fact, PFF posted some statistics to back that statement up on Friday evening:
Kerryon Johnson since 2018:
75.3 OVR (29th)
74.5 RUSH (30th)
63.5 REC (30th)
80.7 PBLK (2nd)
Out of 60 RBs min 650 snaps
— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) March 12, 2021
The issue, as it has always been, is Johnson’s durability. In his first two NFL seasons, Johnson missed a total of 14 games—the same amount of games he started. Although he managed to play in all 16 games last year, with a reduced role he only played in 295 offensive snaps or 28 percent of plays.
However, if the team decides to increase Swift’s role in 2021, it may not be necessary to increase Johnson’s role all that much. And considering Johnson is such a well-rounded back, they likely wouldn’t have to change the offensive game plan too much if Swift were to go down with an injury.
All that being said, I fully expect the Lions to explore options to—at the very least—push Johnson for the RB2 job. And while that is undoubtedly a wise decision, I would rather Detroit not put too many resources into the running back position given how many other more pressing needs they have.
Should Kerryon Johnson be the Lions’ RB2 in 2021?
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