Saints Draft Prospects: Duke Johnson Could Be The Right Fit At Running Back

Duke Johnson
Position: Running back
School: Miami (FL)
Height: 5-foot-9
Weight: 207 pounds

The first thing that jumps off Johnson’s tape is his elite burst and quick feet. He has great patience combined with elite vision which makes him stand out from the other runners in this deep class. He allows blocks to develop, then uses his short area quickness to explode through seams for big gains. The former Hurricane can change direction on a dime without slowing down and is a one-cut runner.

Johnson may not be the biggest back but he finishes off runs and is not afraid to deliver contact to would-be tacklers. When watching a couple of his games, his physical style and competitive nature really stood out. He wants the ball in his hands and he is very fun to watch.

He has improved as a receiver in every season, totaling 38 receptions in 2014 after combining for 31 receptions in the prior two seasons. Possessing his elite athleticism, he can separate from linebackers and is a pretty good route runner. He has soft hands and can make difficult catches. Johnson is a complete third down, NFL back.

Although he has numerous positives in his game, Johnson does possess a few negatives. His elite athleticism makes him bounce more runs to the outside than he should and although he started all 13 games in 2014, he dealt with a few injuries in the 2013 season, including a season ending ankle injury. His ball security could also be improved as he fumbled three times last season.

Overall, Johnson will soon be added to the list of great NFL players to come through “The U,” and he will succeed in a niche (third down) role for his future team. His competitive fire will influence teammates and per, Johnson is driven to become the provider to his family, as they grew up living out of a car with their mother.

Where would he fit in New Orleans?
The Saints have yet to replace Darren Sproles’ third down production out of the backfield and the former Hurricane would be the perfect safety net for the aging Drew Brees. Johnson is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, both as a running back and as a pass catcher, and he would do wonders in the New Orleans offense. As of right now, he is not a three-down back and it would be best to keep him fresh by using him strictly in certain sub-packages and on third down. Johnson is the prototypical third-down back that the Saints have been lacking since Sproles’ departure.

Where could the Saints draft him?
Johnson is included in this very deep running back class where he is the fourth or fifth best ball carrier. Depending on the need for running backs, Johnson may be able to slip to the Saints’ third-round pick, as I project him as a mid-second to early-third round selection. Although he is a very good fit for the Saints, there will be other quality running backs available if he does not slip to New Orleans in round three. If he is conveted by the Saints, they could move back into the mid-to-late second round for a shot at selecting Johnson.

Bookmark and Share
blog comments powered by Disqus