Running back Kerryon Johnson has been described as the ultimate professional, as he has been willing to take on any role or task asked of him by the Detroit Lions coaching staff.
One aspect of playing the running back position that oftentimes gets overlooked -- but not by NFL coaches -- is the ability to pass protect.
Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, former running backs coach Kyle Caskey explained just how proficient Johnson has been as a pass protector during his first three seasons in the league.
"At Auburn, he didn't have a whole lot of pass protection on film, but he's strong. He likes contact. He's actually the best pass protection back I've ever seen," Caskey said. "Him and Giovani Bernard, I put those two up there against anybody."
He added, "I think it's the willingness to go initiate the contact and not wait for the defenders to come hit them, because you'll get run through too often. You see a lot of these backs, and they just kind of sit there and wait like two yards away from the quarterback. Shoot, this guy's coming on a full speed run from the nickel position out on the slot, and he's going to run you right back in the quarterback on initial contact. So, it's knowing where they're coming from. We can teach that. We will figure that out, but it's the willingness to go do it."
The 23-year-old back is expected to play alongside Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift this upcoming season.
Based on the film of his pass protection from 2020, Johnson will likely earn the support of new running backs coach Duce Staley, who expressed just how much he values backs who excel at pass protection.
"You've got to protect the passer. That's the most important thing," Staley told reporters at his introductory press conference. "I take pride in that. I take pride in making sure our quarterback doesn't hit the ground. And that's the most important thing for me. You can be one of the most talented runners out there. You can be the most talented route runner out there. But, if you can't block, you can't play for me. Point blank. Period. So, we're going to start there, and that's how we're going to end it."
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