The Detroit Lions selected Kerryon Johnson in the second-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, with the 43rd overall pick. Due to that, the expectations were pretty high and it's safe to say Johnson showed off a ton of potential in limited time.
In his rookie year, the running back scampered for 641 yards on 118 carries in 10 games. That's an average of 5.4 yards per carry to go along with his three rushing touchdowns.
He also looked great in the passing game, hauling in 32 receptions for another 213 yards and one more touchdown.
This all led to Johnson becoming an immediate threat in all facets of the offense. It's something that could help open up the Lions system and make them an even more dangerous unit.
However, there is plenty in his game that Johnson would likely want to improve upon in 2019. Things that will make him better as a running back and help the Lions succeed more.
Here are three improvements running back Kerryon Johnson must make in 2019 for the Detroit Lions.
3. Yards After Contact
Kerryon Johnson averaged 2.6 yards after contact last season. That's right around the middle of the pack in the NFL.
It actually speaks volumes about the Detroit Lions offensive line, as they clearly kept him from being hit behind the line too often.
2.6 isn't bad, but it's definitely a number that can be improved upon. For reference, fellow rookie Saquon Barkley average 3.2 yards after contact in 2018. That equated for 63.9% of his yards.
Johnson on the other hand, only had that equal out to 47.7% of his yards. This isn't a bad thing, as you could say it just means he avoids being touched as much. However, it also indicates that he simply isn't able to get as many extra yards as a decent amount of other runners.
It's a small critique, but one he'd probably want to work on.
Kerryon Johnson appeared in 10 games for the Detroit Lions last season. He ran for 70-plus yards in four of them, but ran for less than 50 in another four.
Now, you could definitely make an argument that he simply didn't have enough carries in some of those games. At the same time though, you could argue he bailed himself out a few times as well.
Johnson had four games averaging less than four yards per carry – well off his 5.4 average at the end of the year. Even if he wasn't getting a lot of touches, that's a big consistency problem right there.
Then there are situations like a game where he ran for 70 yards, but 24 came on one run. Or when he ran for 55 yards in a game but 32 came on one run.
If Johnson wants to be not only the premier back of the Lions, but one of the best backs in the entire NFL, consistency is key.
Being able to constantly churn out a few yards a play – always keeping the chains moving – makes a big difference. It helps the team trust you more, and will only lead to more carries.
This would be a big step in getting Johnson even further in his career.
Last season Kerryon Johnson only found the end zone for the Detroit Lions four times. Three of those were on the ground. In his defense, the Lions aren't exactly known as a ground-and-pound team. Therefore, most of their touchdowns are going to come via the air.
That being said, that's something the Lions will want to change. You can't continue to be a completely one-dimensional offense if you expect to win games. Johnson needs to show he can find the end zone more often, especially when they're in the red zone.
When the Lions don't have to solely rely on their passing to get them into the end zone, that could become an extremely dangerous offense once again.
Last season, Kerryon Johnson showed tons of potential and gave the Detroit Lions a reason to believe in him.
Now it's time for him to take the next step and pay off that belief.