“That’s The Easiest Question I’ve Been Asked Today”

April 2nd, 2018

The Bucs & Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson

Joe put the proverbial ball on the tee for the Buccaneers head coach last week at the NFL Owners Meetings, and Dirk Koetter belted the ball exactly where Joe expected it to go.

The question was about rookie running backs and the greatest challenge that faces them entering the NFL. Serious Bucs fans know Tampa Bay will be drafting at least one later this month, so it’s an important question, especially considering Koetter’s 11-year history with rookie RBs.

Koetter pointed directly to pass blocking. “That’s the easiest question I’ve been asked today,” he said.

Rookie running backs struggle with pass blocking, Koetter said, largely because limited practice time in college leads to the skill too often getting ignored.

“When you watch these college guys they’re just not asked to do it very much. And when they do, because of the 20-hour rule and everything, for the most part they’re taught to cut-block,” Koetter said. “And that’s just not going to work in the NFL. That’s not going to work. … In general, all college backs need to work on pass protection to be third-down blockers in the NFL.”

Koetter added simply that not every college running back is mentally cut out for pass blocking at the NFL level.

This brings Joe to Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson, who is considered a stud pass blocking prospect in this year’s draft — and one hell of a runner. Koetter is laser focused on rookies and their pass protection, so Joe expects Johnson is prominently on the Tampa Bay radar.

Johnson has had his share of injuries but is among the elite pure athletes in the draft. Here’s his film-guru upside via Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:

STRENGTHS

All-State basketball player in high school who plays with fast feet. Has instant burst to rocket through the line and onto the second level. Gear shifter with access to a variety of speeds. Accelerates around edge defender and then gears down for downhill cut. Uses strong stiff-arm to dump angle tackles. Runs with juice and courage inside. Showed toughness and heart as a banger in upset win over Alabama. Creates with burst and physicality. Never gives in and squeezes everything he can from the run. Pinball back with the churning feet and contact balance to carom off tacklers and restart the run. More likely the hammer than nail when finishing. Goes from bursting to eluding to making the tackler feel it. Third down option who understands protections and rarely busts. Looks to square up one-on-one targets and has toughness to become even better in NFL. Effective on screens, swings and check-downs. Adjusts to throws outside his frame.

Johnson backed up Bucs running back Peyton Barber at Auburn and then blossomed over the past two seasons. Last year, Johnson cranked out 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground with just 285 carries. He very likely will be there for the Bucs in the second round of the draft.

Given general manager Jason Licht’s ramped up focus on tough-guy players, Johnson almost has to be on the Bucs’ list of targets.

58 Responses to ““That’s The Easiest Question I’ve Been Asked Today””

  1. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Let your imaginations run wild. Nelson is supposed to be a real mean guard.
    Our new center Jensen has a rep as a bad dude and Ali has his own rep.

    So if we got Johnson and he too has a rep as a bad dude…and Barber is a very hard running back…3 studs holding down the interior of our OL and two mean bruising runners.

    Maybe we could recreate what the Panthers had going with Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. I remember too many games where those two just gashed our D repeatedly.

  2. K_Bassuka Says:

    I said it long ago, Kerryon is the best fit for our scheme and arguably the second best RB in this year draft class. Hope other teams don’t view him like that and listen to the mock draft experts, but I highly doubt it. This kid’s film it’s sick.

  3. Gambelero Says:

    I see it now. We’re 27-10 going into the 4th quarter, but give up a too-easy touchdown. Then, we take 8 minutes running hard mixed in with a couple play action throws. We end up giving up another td, but the game is never in doubt, 34-24 and feels like more. Build from the trenches…

  4. BetterBuccinBelieveIt Says:

    First……Saquon Barkley.

    Beyond that, this guy was shut down cold 3 times in 2 years by Bama, and was injured 3 times in the last 2 years (2 consecutive shoulder injuries) in the final 2 seasons of his college career. Fragile. He’s no Ronnie Brown or Cadillac Williams who both came out of Auburn. He’s 30 pounds lighter than SA-QUON. Nope.

    Like I said…two words. SA-QUON BARKLEY. (frankly, rinse and repeat with all the RB’s that may be mentioned between now and April 26th).

    Next.

    Go Bucs!

  5. Easy Says:

    Auburn ran that guy to death and he was wore out by the end of last season. Lots of miles on him

  6. [email protected] Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    He refused to run the 40 at the combine
    Here is some stuff on him. I like him

    While Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson opted not to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, he did register jumps of 40 inches (vertical) and 126 inches (broad).
    We’ll have to wait until Auburn’s pro day to see Johnson run the 40-yard dash, but outside of his sitting out that run on Friday, he’s impressed in his combine work. Both his vertical and broad jumps were among the best for a running back in Indianapolis. Rotoworld’s Thor Nystrom — one of Johnson’s biggest backers — has referred to him as a “rich man’s version of (former Clemson RB) Wayne Gallman” and ranks him as his fifth running back in the class. Depending on Johnson’s eventual 40 time, we are not ruling out the possibility that the 5-foot-11, 213-pounder could sneak into the draft fray near the end of Day 1. More realistically, he’s a likely Day 2 selection.

  7. BetterBuccinBelieveIt Says:

    And….we need to slow our (collective) roll, with “Lance Zierlein” and others of that ilk, for sourcing information on “strengths and weaknesses” of players going forward. I realize that many of the best draft-niks do not comment on every draft-eligible player’s profile (for an article) here, but we really should reserve the sourcing of draft-eligible player info to Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper Jr., or Gil Brandt’s opinions. Beyond those, it is circumspect, at best. In THIS Bucs fan’s humble (but accurate) opinion.
    Go Bucs!
    Zierlein really puts in the heavy lifting on the film. They all make lots of mistakes. Every last one of them. You’d see similar commentary on Johnson’s pass blocking from Gus Malzahn and many others connected to him.–Joe

  8. Blake_Bucsfan Says:

    Option A:

    Rnd 1 – G Quenton Nelson
    Rnd 2 – CB Isaiah Olivar/ Jaire Alexander
    Rnd 3 – Via Trade RB Rashaad Penny

    Option B:

    Rnd 1 – RB Saquon Barkley
    Rnd 2 – CB Isaiah Olivar/ Jaire Alexander
    Rnd 3 – Via Trade G Frank Ragnow

    Option C:

    Rnd 1 – CB Denzel Ward
    Rnd 2 – RB Kerryon Johnson or G Will Hernandez/ Isiah Wynn
    Rnd 3 – Via Trade G Frank Ragnow or RB Rashaad Penny

    One way or another, we have to address those 3 positions with our first 3 picks.

  9. K_Bassuka Says:

    Just like I said it long ago, Kerryon Johnson it’s arguably the second best RB in this year’s class and hopefully we can scoop him up in the second round. He is the best fit for our scheme and would have been ranked much higher if not for the pass first offense he played for.

    @Chris
    He ran a 4.54 in his pro-day but he can accelerate faster than most, his film it’s just amazing.

  10. Dave Says:

    Sony Michel

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Ranked # 5 RB by Walter Football…..2-3rd round…..I believe there will be better RBs available to us with our 2nd pick…..anything can happen if we trade down in first or 2nd…..
    I’d really like to get at least that 3rd round pick back.

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Does anybody feel a bit better with Tmax gone?….I sure enjoy JBF more.

    And, 87…..good to hear from you….understand completely if you are unable to post a lot……it is time consuming and my wife calls me obsessed and compulsive……if she only knew there was a Tmax out there…she’s ease off.

  13. BetterBuccinBelieveIt Says:

    Ok Joe…sure.

    Even Daniel Jeremiah at NFL Network is leaps and bounds better than Lance Zierlein, in THIS Bucs fan’s humble opinion, and Jeremiah isn’t Mayock, or Kiper Jr., or Gil Brandt, while all are respectable opinions. And no, they do not make all the same level of “mistakes” at the same positions. Just was saying, IMO, let’s keep the player feedback to the elite few, was all.

    Go Bucs! Go Barkley! Go Bold! Go Primetime!

  14. AlteredEgo Says:

    At least tmax kept it real…sure it got old….much better he than the boring internet GM’s with multiple 3 round draft scenarios…including pie in the sky trades for players the Bucs might not even be interested in

  15. Destinjohnny Says:

    Need a back but
    If we do
    James first
    Then a corner at 2….
    Our defense is then looking Interesting with 2 solid additions.
    Add a bo Scarborough in the 4th..
    We just upgraded

  16. Destinjohnny Says:

    1. James
    2 Carlton Davis or Keryon
    With these two additions we have be big time improved

  17. TonyC Says:

    Jesus Christ who cares about pass blocking give me a stud three down back that can average 4 plus yards a carry and they’ll figure out how to pass block with their plenitude of ends and high priced offensive tackles. Put an extra back on third down for christ sakes for max protection. What’s the point of this article?

  18. Baker Mayfield Says:

    Barkley Killed at the combine, but look at his season he was not that special.
    He was shut multiple times and would have one long run to make his stats look good.

  19. TonyC Says:

    James, Sony Michel.

  20. TonyC Says:

    The problem with this regime is that they over think every choice they make.

  21. adam from ny Says:

    yeah, not quite…he’s okay…pass…he’s like a 3rd rounder

  22. Chris Bradley Says:

    Sony Michel would be my pick, he’s versatile and can line up literally at any position needed.

  23. Buccaneer scotty Says:

    No to James he’ll be kicked out of every game ! With the new helmet hit rule! Nfl will turn into pass only League

  24. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Kerryon Johnson vs Alabama
    • Rushing: 30 | 104 | 3.5 | 1
    • Receiving: 3 | 21 | 7.0
    • Passing: 1 | 3 | 1

    Auburn beats #1 Alabama in 2017 Iron Bowl
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg-ue1zcJxE

  25. BetterBuccinBelieveIt Says:

    🙂 You simpletons….

    Love it. Cool. Whateva. You hacks. No problema.

    Go Licht. Go Bucs!

  26. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Kerryon Johnson vs. Georgia
    • Rushing: 32 | 167 | 5.2 | 0
    • Receiving: 2 | 66 | 33.0 | 1

    Auburn beats #1 Georgia 2017
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujPgcvKcAls

    Note: Georgia Rushing Defense was Ranked #5th at the time

  27. Lamarcus Says:

    Tonyc

    U need a rb that know how to block. U will tip off your offense and/or get your Qb killed

  28. BucEmUp Says:

    So are we assuming that the bucs could wait on a pass rusher to the third round?

    If JPP goes down they are screwed!!!!!

    Never mind they are screwed anyway with the coaching staff on defense. Take the rb.

  29. BucEmUp Says:

    Tony your rb has to know how to pass block. C’mon bro

  30. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Kerryon Johnson vs. LSU
    • Rushing: 31 | 156 | 5.0 | 1

    Kerryon Johnson vs. LSU – Tiger Bowl
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn-FpwdkE0I

  31. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Clinton Poortis was a back who loved to block ,but shoulder injuries hampered his
    ability to be effective at it, and probably shortened his career.
    Shoulder injuries are a red flag for me.

  32. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Kerryon Johnson vs. Texas A&M
    • Rushing: 29 | 145 | 5.0 | 1
    • Receiving: 5 | 29 | 5.8 | 1

    Kerryon Johnson vs. Texas A&M
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AklYXWoPpNQ

  33. Blake_Bucsfan Says:

    @Luv

    I hadn’t heard very much about Kerryon Johnson before Joe posted this article. So, I went and checked out some footage, overall I’d say he’s a solid, well put together, physical runner with pretty damn good vision.

    One thing I’d say that worry’s me, is now after watching his game VS Bama, twice I’ve seen him seize up and fall over injured on non contact plays while making a cut. It’s not a deal breaker, but I do find it somewhat worrisome.

  34. Hunter Says:

    Did joe block tmax or something? What happened to him?

  35. BetterBuccinBelieveIt Says:

    🙂

    First post…7:06pm to 8:53 non-posted (moderation 🙂 )

    Second post 8:12pm to 8:54pm non-posted (moderation 🙂 )

    Ohhh so busy, right @Joe’s…

    :))

    Clearly not PFT (and the only standard that matters)…….Florio.

    Go Bucs! Go Barkley! Go Bold! Go Primetime!

  36. SteveK Says:

    Hunter,

    Tmaxcon made comments towards Dungy and family that were out of line. Joe decided to “put him on ice” for a few months. He also mentioned that he was a loyal commenter since day one.

    I for one hope Tmaxcon can come back out to play sometime. No one is perfect, and the comment section on this site never made me laugh as hard when Tmaxcon is commenting. He spits the cold hard truth, and often times it made me LOL.

    Everyone makes mistakes and in time hopefully he will be back.

  37. SCBucsFan Says:

    I still hope there is room to sign a CB and a RB, veterans, who fall to us on the cheap.

    I’m happy Joe put TMax on ice. Thank you. As a Bucs fan from day 1 I understand the frustrations with this team, I really do, but it makes intelligent conversation much easier here. I applaud the Joe’s move.

  38. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Blake_Bucsfan

    I spoke about him a few times – back in Dec & Jan.
    The kid’s a beast when he’s healthy. But running in the SEC aint no joke; brotha.
    Damn near every week your playing against the monster. That takes a toll on you after awhile.

    Don’t forget that same Alabama Defense destroyed both – Derrius Guice & Leonard Fournette. Two bruising backs, who also had their share of nagging injuries in college.

  39. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Blake

    I spoke about him a few times – back in Dec & Jan.
    The kid’s a beast when he’s healthy. But running in the SEC aint no joke; brotha.

    Damn near every week your playing against a different monster.
    That takes a toll on you after awhile.

    Don’t forget that same Alabama Defense destroyed both – Derrius Guice & Leonard Fournette. Two bruising backs, who also had their share of nagging injuries in college.

  40. LostinPa Says:

    Nice to see a new name banted about. I haven’t heard about him but he seems to be a 3rd tier RB based on durability alone. This draft is so deep at RB someone good is going to fall into the middle to late 3rd which we have the ammo to get to if we see someone slipping. The focus has to be secondary with the first two picks unless one of the top 3 are available. We need a starting CB that can be ready to take over for Grimes next year.

  41. LostinPa Says:

    Sorry no edit Haven’t heard “much”….

  42. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    #Repost

    LUVMYBUCS Says:
    February 17th, 2018 at 6:00 am←-

    Joe,

    Respect your passion for addressing a position of need. But there’s no way in hell I’m trading up for running back – when there’s quality backs in the 2nd & 3rd.

    Kerryon Johnson manhandled the Savage SEC West.
    And the last time I checked Ronald Jones & Nick Chubb can still tote that rock.

    Waaay to many holes on this squad Joe. But If Michel still on the board in the 2nd – I would have no problem with us – turning in the card.

  43. Blake_Bucsfan Says:

    @Luv

    I’m fully aware that the SEC is a very physical division. And his tape VS Bama is quite good, the play where his QB flips him the ball like 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage and he still turned it in to a first was an eye-opener.

    Still, as much as I like his tape, lower body injuries on non-contact plays are a scary thing. Granted as a Rookie he would be part of a 3 man rotation, so he could probably lessen the weekly wear and tear on his body.

    All that being said I’m still in favor of drafting him, because I think his tape his every bit as impressive to me as Sony Michel or Nick Chubb.

  44. Blake_Bucsfan Says:

    @BetterBucinBelieveit

    Lol, you gotta lotta nerve coming on here calling people simpletons and in the same breath you’re touting Mel Kiper as some kind of expert.

    Kiper is a hack fraud, and you’re nothing but a lemming for thinking otherwise.

  45. BrianBucs Says:

    I like this kid, but he sure did have a LOT of carries against SEC defenses

  46. Mike in LOL Says:

    Steve,

    While it’s true people do make mistakes, him speaking such ill will toward multiple good people is not a mistake, it’s a habit. He has a habit of being a disgusting degenerate that in the real world wouldn’t dare say half of what he types because he’d get curb stomped by plenty of people.

    But when he comes back I’ll live with it… some of his comments aren’t bad, like 10% of them have some quality discussion material, 80% of it is just gmc bashing and the other 10% is the stuff I mention above that’d have him lights out on the ground in the real world

  47. bucs4ya Says:

    We definitely need a RB in this draft I for one am all in on Sony Michel and hope he falls to us. As far as this guy goes if Bucs go for a bruiser I hope it’s Bo Scarborough. For all those talking about how great of a blocker Johnson is you may wanna watch the highlights again. Many missed blocked and failed cut block attempts.

  48. Reality_43 Says:

    I agree with Mike in LOL,

    You NEVER make a comment about a respectable coach like Dungy being the reason his son commited suicide. That’s just plain ignorant.

    And I agree with the fact Johnson had a TON of carries.

    After watching tape on Denzel Ward, he is the shut down corner we need.
    And Sony Michele is supposed to be an excellent blocker as well, with way less miles.

  49. Jeffbuc Says:

    Better believe it you are going to be so depressed come draft day. There is no way we are trading up for Barkley. So you probably should start falling in love with a different runningback a 2-4th round guy. You have banging Barkley’s drum for months now like it is really going to happen. Let me repeat there is no way we trade up and lose a second round pick and come out of the draft with Barkley and a 5,6,7 round pick. We have way to many holes to trade away a valuable 2nd round pick. The best thing for the team to do in my opinion is trade back acquire another 2nd and 4th. Then we can get are pick of runningback not named Barkley in the first. A good defensive end and corner back.

  50. denjoe Says:

    This should tell you that koetter doesn’t value the running game.

  51. [email protected] Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I have been here for quite awhile, and remember many, many Trolls.
    Tmaxcon was no where near the best JBF Troll.
    That “honor” has to go to the Immortal Thomas 2.2

  52. Duke Says:

    Betterbuc,

    Talking about a guy getting shut down………….#1 Barkley.
    Worse, it was not Bama….Rutgers, Iowa, on….on…

  53. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Blake_Bucsfan

    I agree brotha.
    I see you talking about C/G – Frank Ragnow, another beast.

    Wish we had the extra draft capital to draft the kid.

  54. J Says:

    TU-A in TWO-OH

  55. Bucsfanman Says:

    LUV- Kerryon is a nice back. A little wear on those tires though. He kind of broke down a bit, SEC opponents probably why.

  56. Bucsfanman Says:

    tmax got put in “time out”?! I thought it was quiet in here the last couple of days. He’ll be alright, I had GMC send him a care package!

  57. 813bucboi Says:

    i like him….would be glad if we selected him…..grab bo scarbrough in round 5 why you at it…..that’s a nasty 3 headed monster…..we need a big back who can get those 3rd &inches….4th &goals…..

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  58. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Joe, wasn’t McNichols the best pass-blocking rb in his class last year??????