Although Detroit Lions’ rookie Kerryon Johnson represents the future at running back in the Motor City, his troubling injury history is a real cause for concern.
When it comes to all sports, the best predictor of future injuries is the past. And if that’s the case for Detroit Lions‘ 2018 second round pick Kerryon Johnson, fans should be worried.
After falling flat on their collective faces running the ball last season, the Lions’ brass turned their attention to adding more talented runners to their backfield this offseason. That effort resulted in the signing of 31-year old running back LeGarrette Blount as well as grabbing Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
As a former member of the New England Patriots, and a three-time Super Bowl champion, the reason for Blount’s presence in Detroit is clear. The eight-year veteran gives the Lions an experienced player with a championship pedigree who can help develop the team’s younger running backs. On top of that, Blount should provide the team some much needed quality snaps to lift the league’s worst rushing attack to new heights.
In Johnson, Detroit places it’s hope for the future. The 20-year old was the sixth running back taken in last month’s draft. And although many believe Johnson was a more talented player than some of the backs chosen before him, injury concerns made his selection a risky one.
Johnson’s injury history goes all the way back to high school, where he suffered both left and right shoulder injuries, a sprained MCL and a broken thumb. Those ailments kept building at Auburn. While in college, Johnson suffered injuries to his ribs, hamstring, ankle and, yet again, to his shoulder.
Despite all of those injuries, Johnson only missed four games over his three seasons at Auburn. So the kid is able to play through pain. Still, this extensive injury history was enough for some NFL teams to look elsewhere for a premier running back in the draft.
But the Lions weren’t one of them. Feeling the pressure after the fifth running back was taken off the board, Detroit traded their second round pick (51st) and a fourth rounder (117th) to the Patriots for the 43rd overall selection and the right to draft Johnson.
After a vigorous medical examination, the Lions’ brass simply felt confident in Johnson’s durability moving forward.
“[Johnson will] hold up,” Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn told the Detroit Free Press. ” … any player you take, I’d say any position except for maybe corner or receiver out of the SEC, they’re tough. And they’re physical. So we feel really good about that. There’s no issues with his durability for us.”
One of the main reasons for Kerryon Johnson’s laundry list of injuries is due to his aggressive, upright rushing style. It’s likely something to rookie will have to adjust if the injuries continue to pile up in the NFL. Regardless, the Detroit Lions feel comfortable about the rookie’s durability. Let’s just hope they feel the same way at this time next year.