Duke Johnson enters the 2015 NFL Draft after a productive career as the featured running back for the Miami Hurricanes. He totaled 242 car., 1652 yards and 10 TDs in 2014 to go along with 38 rec., 421 yards and 3 TDs through the air. For his career, Johnson carried the ball 526 times for 3,519 yards and 26 TDs. He returned in 2014 after a bad injury to his ankle in 2013. He has been a dynamic contributor to the Hurricanes since his freshman season. Physically, Johnson measures in at the minimum requirements for a feature back, as his 5’9″, 205 lb frame is plenty big enough for a back with his skill set. He has elite feet and vision that he uses in unison when diagnosing running lanes, and he is blessed with a true two-stepper’s ability; he gets to full speed in the blink of an eye. Duke has enough power and pop behind his pads to succeed between the tackles despite his small-ish frame. He runs with good pad level while always being one step ahead of the defender; he has the innate and elite ability to anticipate the defenders movement and correctly make a cut off of it. Johnson is patient behind the LOS and allows his blocks to develop before he explodes into the second level, and once he’s there, there aren’t many defenders that can bring him down in a one-on-one scenario. He can take it to the house from any distance and is already a player capable of contributing in the passing game on third downs. He’s a willing blocker and a dangerous receiver.
BOTTOM LINE: Duke Johnson is a back who is tailor-made for today’s NFL game. He’s a cross between Andre Ellington and LeSean McCoy with his open-field elusiveness and game-breaking ability. Johnson also has the tough, between-the-tackle demeanor of Frank Gore. Duke might not be the first running back selected, but he’ll be a premier starting-quality performer on Sundays.
GRADE: 8.2 (1st Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)