Detroit Lions: Running Back power rankings heading into 2020

Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /
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Ty Johnson, Detroit Lions.
Ty Johnson, Detroit Lions. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

5. Ty Johnson

As a rookie last year, Johnson was the only Lions running back to play in all sixteen games. Throughout this stretch, he put together okay numbers for a 6th round pick (273 rushing yards, 4.3 avg) but it’s hard to say he left a particularly strong impression.

Out of 90 touches (63 rushes, 24 catches, 3 returns), Johnson didn’t reach the end zone a single time, and his longest reception was only 13 yards. Despite a blazing 4.26 forty time at his pro day before the draft, I can’t say that speed fully translated to the field.

After Jason Huntley was drafted, Bob Quinn made it clear that “he is going to be in a competition with Ty Johnson.” Johnson and Huntley both have similar skill sets and forty times, and Johnson’s biggest advantage right now is a much larger frame (210 pounds) that allowed him a few power bursts up the middle a year ago, something that won’t be expected from the rookie. My gut feeling is that when the dust settles, there will be room for five backs on the active roster, but that Johnson will be the one sweating the most on the final day of cuts.

6. Wes Hills

Wes Hills became an underdog legend in Week 15 last year, when the undrafted rookie scored two touchdowns in his one and only NFL game to date. Don’t get too excited though–each was a one yard plunge, and he only had 21 yards on ten carries for the game. Kerryon Johnson returned from injury the next week, and the Slippery Rock University alumnus didn’t see any more action.

The dream scenario moving forward for Hills would be taking the Joique Bell route, undrafted out of a division two school, but hang around long enough to carve out a productive career for the Lions. As it stands, Hills is likely a practice squad mainstay and an emergency option in the backfield.

And don’t forget… Fullback Nick Bawden

It’s 2020, the Lions still keep a fullback on the roster, and that man is Nick Bawden. Drafted in the 7th round in 2018, Bawden saw action in ten games a year ago, used almost exclusively as a blocker. He didn’t have any carries, but caught four passes for 17 yards.

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With a pretty deep set of running backs right now, it will be interesting to see what Bevell decides to do with Bawden: does he get cut to make room for an additional running back, or is Bevell looking to mold a modern day Cory Schlesinger?