The 2015 NFL Draft will be held on April 30 through May 2 in Chicago, Illinois, and it is a time where the 32 NFL teams will look to add some pieces to improve both this year and in future years. The Indianapolis Colts currently have nine picks in the Draft, including at least one in each round, and therefore they should be active on Draft day. Who might they target? We're taking a look at a number of different prospects, and today we take a look at Miami running back Duke Johnson.
The 5-9, 206 pound running back played in 33 games over three seasons with Miami, rushing for 3,519 yards and 26 touchdowns on 526 carries, averaging 6.7 yards per rush. He also added 69 receptions for 719 yards and four scores in the receiving game, along with returning 41 kickoffs, averaging 31.8 yards per return and scoring two touchdowns. In 2014, Johnson accounted for 2,073 total yards and 13 total touchdowns in leading Miami's offense.
Johnson is a very explosive runner and can make defenses pay on any given play, as his burst and decisiveness make him a very dangerous running back for opponents. He showed in college that he can help in more ways than just running the football, also providing a threat in both the receiving game and kick return game. He is an aggressive player who fights for yards but who most of the time relies on his explosiveness and elusiveness to make plays - which, given his skill in those areas, that's not a bad thing.
As with many runners who are very explosive, Johnson struggles somewhat when running inside. NFL teams can play to his strengths, but at the same time he'll need to improve when running between the tackles. His durability is also a concern, given his size and then the fact that he suffered a broken ankle in 2013 and a number of smaller injuries in 2014. And like a number of the running backs we've looked at, Johnson has had some fumbling issues.
Big Board Rankings
NFL.com - not on the list of the top 50 prospects
CBSSports.com - 57th overall, number 5 running back
Mocking the Draft - number 6 running back
Mock Draft Predictions
Stephen Reed's most recent mock draft: selected by New York Jets, 37th overall (2nd round)
Josh Wilson's most recent mock draft: not selected in the first round
How Would He Help the Colts?
Once again, we look at another potential running back option for the Colts, and by now it's becoming clear of one thing: it's expected that the Colts will look to improve that position in the draft. Frank Gore was signed to be their starter for the next year or two, but after that they will have competition for playing time behind him (with guys like Boom Herron and Zurlon Tipton already being on the roster) and will be looking for a long-term answer at the position.
Duke Johnson would be a nice fit for the Colts. He's a dynamic runner who could provide the change of pace running back this year while working on other aspects of his game as he hopefully develops into an eventual full-time starter (or as much of a "full-time starter" as there is in the NFL anymore). Johnson would be a great addition to the Colts' offense.
The problem with Duke Johnson comes with this: when should the Colts take him? Johnson is almost certainly expected to be available when the Colts pick in the first round at number 29 overall, but it's also expected that he will be long gone by the time the Colts pick again in the second round. This discussion is all a moot point if the Colts are very much sold on Johnson and want to add him, but I think the team would be well severed to add defensive help in the first round. If Duke Johnson falls to them in the second round, I think he'd be a great fit for the Colts' offense, but I don't expect that to actually happen.