Where does the powerful Bo Scarbrough fit in the Detroit Lions backfield in 2020?
The Detroit Lions found production in Bo Scarbrough after injuries limited a plethora of other options in Detroit’s backfield. Detroit starting back Kerryon Johnson missed half of the regular season for the second straight year.
General Manager Bob Quinn spent the organizations’ second-round pick (35th overall) on Georgia’s D’Andre Swift. The former Bulldog is expected to compete with Johnson for the teams’ lead back job.
The Lions also currently have second-year back Ty Johnson, rookie Jason Huntley, Wes Hills, along with Scarbrough rostered. It’s worth noting Detroit also has fullback Nick Bawden rostered. It’s a crowded group, but don’t expect all these players to stick entering week one of the 2020 season.
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Many of us expect Ty Johnson and Jason Huntley to compete with each other for a final running back spot on the active roster. Huntley is a pass-catching weapon out of the backfield, his speed, and lateral quickness to go along with his shiftiness and return abilities remind me of Tarik Cohen.
Ty Johnson proved his worth last season averaging 4.3 yards per carry playing on a pitch count. Johnson only toted the rock 63 times totaling 273 rushing yards. He also chipped in with 24 receptions totaling 109 yards. Johnson didn’t find his way to the endzone but proved he’s good enough to be on an NFL roster.
Huntley may be competing with Jamal Agnew for a roster spot. The pair may only find themselves rostered if they can win the starting returner positon. Agnew is shifting from a cornerback to wide receiver, his inexperience at the position may place him behind the eight-ball entering the competition.
Huntley starting his roster battle as the teams’ fifth back means he will need to excel on special teams to earn himself a job by week one, or the practice squad may become a week one option. That comes with plenty of risks as other organizations will have an opportunity to poach him.
Where does that leave the Detroit Lions and Scarbrough?
After last season’s production, I believe Scarbrough has solidified himself as the franchise’s third back on the depth chart. Things can change quickly, but Scarbrough found himself as Detroit’s lead back during the second half of the 2019 season after the Lions were stricken with injuries.
The former Alabama product finally received his first opportunity to carry the football at the NFL level with Detroit. The Lions are the 23-year old’s fourth organization and provided the powerful, violent runner a chance to prove he belongs.
Scarbrough appeared in six games and made 89 carries totaling 377 yards, scoring one touchdown. His 4.2 yards per carry average was quite impressive when you consider the Lions struggled to run the football all season long. Scarbrough was often met in the backfield, but like the Frank Gore’s of the world found himself falling forward, refusing to be tackled for a loss. Of Scarbrough’s 377 rushing yards, 281 of them came after contact.
In an article published by ESPN, Scarbrough explains his desire to graduate.
"“I want to pursue my dream and graduate,” Scarbrough said. “It was something that I was looking forward to after the season and after I was finishing getting my stuff together in Detroit.“I was excited to come back and keep me busy in the offseason and keeping up to date on myself as far as body-wise and workout-wise. I would do everything here. It pretty much worked out for the better for me.”"
Scarbrough has plans beyond football. He left Alabama in 2018 with five classes left; he always had a goal to return and complete them, that’s exactly what he’s doing. With his sights on joining the FBI after football, Scarbrough is pursuing a degree in criminal justice.
The Detroit Lions need a power-back, and although Ty Johnson’s frame projects as such, I was quite impressed with Bo, and I’d like to see him serve as the team’s short-yardage back to start the 2020 season. Also, D’Andre Swift appears as though he’s a complete three-down runner, but it’s a position that you can never have enough options at your disposal.