Player: Kerryon Johnson
Height/Weight: 5-11, 206
2018 statistics: 10 games played, 641 rushing yards, 5.4 yards per attempt, 4 total touchdowns
2019 base salary: $775,622
Contract Status: Signed through 2021
It may be too early to anoint Johnson the best Lions running back since Barry Sanders, but that could be the narrative if he builds on last year’s impressive rookie campaign. Simply put, he’s the best ball carrier on the Lions right now, and it’s not close.
The key for Johnson this year will be staying healthy. After missing the last six games of 2018 with a knee injury, he mentioned earlier this year his goal of playing a full season. A full slate of games from their young star would be a huge boost to the Lions offense under new defensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Unfortunately, his injury concerns followed Johnson from his college days at Auburn to the pros, and the Lions remain intent on having a stable of capable backups in tow should Johnson miss more time. The rest of the players on this list should allow the Lions to avoid overworking him as well.
Pass protection, a highly important trait for Lions running backs under this regime, could be key for Johnson reaching his full potential in 2019. Not yet a strength of his, should he make a leap there in 2019, the Lions will be at ease leaving him on the field on third downs. At this point, it’s likely that only another injury could impede Johnson’s progress.
Chances of making the 53-man roster: 100 percent