Detroit Lions General Manager (GM) Bob Quinn used two of the organizations draft choices on running backs, what does that mean for a guy like second-year back Ty Johnson?
One thing is for sure, D’Andre Swift will play a significant role within the Detroit Lions offense immediately, leaving others in question. GM Bob Quinn used the 35th overall pick on Georgia’s D’Andre Swift to bolster Detroit’s backfield.
The Lions have been searching for a franchise, three-down back since Barry Sanders retired. It’s incredible to think during his 11-year career to date, Matthew Stafford hasn’t had a feature-type running back in the backfield he could turn and give the ball to, taking some pressure off of himself and the offense.
Imagine how effective Stafford could be with a player like Ezekiel Elliott, or Le’Veon Bell pounding the rock in Detroit’s offense? Well, Swift may provide that stellar runner Detroit’s long sought. Swift, in all likelihood, will start his career in a ‘timeshare’ scenario with third-year back Kerryon Johnson to begin next season.
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Kerryon has struggled to remain healthy over his first two professional seasons, that trend started in high school, continued into college, and progressed at the professional level. Johnson’s inability to remain healthy unquestionably played a role in Quinn’s decision to draft a top-tier running back.
Quinn wasn’t done there; later in the draft, the Detroit Lions selected running back Jason Huntley way of New Mexico State in the fifth round.
Ty Johnson‘s reaction to a running back competition… dragging a jeep during a workout.
The immediate expectation is that Huntley and Ty Johnson will compete for a similar role within the Detroit offense this upcoming season. Both players are speedy runners with return game abilities. Ty Johnson corralled 24 pass receptions in his rookie year and averaged 4.3 yards per carry running the football.
Huntley, a speedy 5’9 back whose skill-set mirrors the Chicago Bears Tarik Cohen, may play more of a role working out of the slot on Detroit’s offense rather than lining up beside Stafford in the shotgun.
Perhaps that move will allow the Lions to keep both, Ty Johnson and Huntley on the roster. I expect Bo Scarbrough to remain on Detroit’s roster as a short-yardage, power back after his 4.2 yards per carry behind an abysmal offensive line last season, that was also operating without Stafford under center. Could Detroit possibly try to slide Huntley or Johnson onto their practice squad as a reserve? That could be a viable option, but it comes with the risk of losing said player to another team.
If Huntley were to bounce a receiver from the roster, it would in all likelihood be deep-threat Marvin Hall or Geronimo Allison. Huntley made 134 catches over his four-year college career totaling 1,119 yards and seven touchdowns. In comparison, Johnson only compiled 29 receptions totaling 318 yards and two touchdowns in a four-year career at Maryland. Those 24 grabs with Detroit last season proved he can be a useful option as a pass-catching running back at the professional level.
Johnson, a sixth-round pick from a year ago, understands he needs to have a tremendous showing leading up to the start of the regular season to solidify himself as a part of the Detroit Lions roster.