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Leading up to the 2015 NFL draft, MLive.com writers Justin Rogers and Kyle Meinke will preview prospects who could be a fit for the Detroit Lions.
Name: Duke Johnson Position: Running back School: Miami Height: 5-foot-9 Weight: 207 pounds Projected round: Second-third 40-yard dash time: 4.54 seconds Bench press reps: 18 reps
Key stats: Despite Miami's rich history of talented tailbacks, Duke Johnson finished as the school's all-time leading rusher in just three seasons.
Johnson racked up 3,519 yards on the ground, averaging an impressive 6.7 yards per carry, while adding another 719 yards as a receiver out of the backfield. Oh yeah, he also can return kicks. He didn't handle kickoffs in 2014, but the previous two seasons, he averaged 31.8 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. How he fits: Johnson is a well-rounded back who offers additional value as a potential special teams contributor. While on the short side at 5-foot-9, he has enough weight on his frame to absorb the physical toll of the professional game.
More quick than fast, Johnson is a player who is elusive in the open field and can change direction with ease. It makes him a weapon as both on the edge and as receiver out of the backfield.
Johnson is also able to maximize his skill set as a kick returner. He didn't handle punts for the Hurricanes, but was successful doing it in high school.
Quotable: "Johnson's greatest asset is his burst. He doesn't have an elite second gear, but he reaches his top-end speed quickly. He doesn't shake defenders with highlight-reel moves, but he has the agility to make the first defender miss and he's a run-after-catch threat in the passing game. He runs really hard, but doesn't have the power base to regularly push the pile (he's tougher to tackle in space, with an effective stiff arm). He rates very well in terms of intangibles, but his durability is a concern that NFL teams will have to monitor." -- Todd McShay, ESPN.com
"Impressive acceleration. Alternately displays burst, agility and light feet to high-step through tackles and an effective stiff-arm. Patient runner willing to stretch plays and then hit the hole hard. Shows the "greasy knees" to cut and accelerate in one fluid motion, eluding would-be tacklers. Despite small stature, fights hard for every yard and shows a highly competitive nature." -- Rob Rang, CBS Sports
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