Duke Johnson: Prospect Breakdown (with GIFs)

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Pros, Cons, and a Summary of Duke Johnson

Oct 26, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson (8) runs the ball against Wake Forest Demon Deacons linebacker Mike Olson (41) in the second quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports


  • Change of direction ability, maintains speed
  • Excellent vision
  • Great footwork, cuts are top notch
  • Elusive in the open field
  • Patient runner, waits for blocks to setup
  • Threat in the pass game
  • Should run in the low 4.4’s
  • Can return kicks and punts


  • Below average size (5’9″, 206)
  • Ball security
  • Needs to get stronger in lower body, running through leg contact
  • Injury history
  • Not a goal line back for short yardage situations
  • Decent pass blocker, but definitely can improve in this area


Duke Johnson is the all-time leader in all-purpose yards in Miami Hurricanes history. Think about all of the great names that have rolled through “The U”, and Duke sits atop them all. He’s second in school history in career rushing yards.

He’s got just about every trait you could want in a running back. He can make defenders miss with ease, and he can do it in multiple ways. His cuts are decisive and quick and he can change direction without losing his speed.

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Johnson’s vision is perhaps his best trait, and combined with his lateral agility, he is probably best suited for a zone-blocking scheme. This allowed him to often get to the second level of opposing defenses and once in the open field, he’s a threat to take any play to the house.

Duke does most of his damage running outside the tackles, but he showed the ability to get skinny through holes and run between the tackles with success.

Some question his top-end speed, but to me, he looks like he’ll be right on the 4.4 bubble in a 40-yard dash.

Duke has below average size at 5’9″, 206 pounds. This isn’t much of concern for me, as his measureables are very similar to Gio Bernard and Frank Gore. He isn’t built as stocky as the two of them, but with an NFL strength & conditioning program, this should improve.

Until then, he isn’t an ideal back for goal-line situations.

In regard to his size, Duke does need to improve his strength in his lower body. Too often, he was brought down by arm tackles, and he was unable to run through contact to the legs.

Duke also has a bit of a fumbling problem. At times, he would get careless with the ball and he would pay the price for it.

With all that being said, I have Duke ranked as the second best running back in this class, trailing only Todd Gurley.

I’m a big believer in positional value when it comes to the draft so I’m not a fan of the Raiders taking a running back too early, but if Duke is available at the top of the 3rd round, I’d run up to the clock to make the pick.

He’d be an outstanding compliment to Latavius Murray and could give Oakland a very good 1-2 punch in the backfield.