AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Kerryon Johnson can now happily get back to his football routine.
The Auburn running back ran the 40 before NFL scouts Friday at the school’s pro day after skipping it at the combine. He didn’t quite make his goal of 4.50 seconds or better, running in 4.58 and 4.54, but was happy to get it over with.
“Now I’m back to being an actual football player,” Johnson said. “I’m not working on those drills or anything. Now I’m just working on bettering myself as a running back.”
Johnson and a number of former teammates — including cornerback Carlton Davis , defensive end Jeff Holland and guard Braden Smith — went through drills and ran for representatives of NFL teams. Johnson, Davis, Holland and running back Kamryn Pettway all skipped their final seasons .
Projected as a potential early round pick in the April draft, Johnson’s 40 time was the biggest question mark going into the day.
The 5-foot-11, 206-pounder was named Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year and second-team All-American by The Associated Press despite some injury issues that cost him two early season games and slowed him down late in the season.
Injuries have been a hot topic for NFL teams meeting with Johnson.
“I think everybody always goes with the durability question,” he said. “So we talk about it. Teams are a lot more willing to listen and understand than people outside of football. Bottom line is, playing SEC running back for three years, I missed three games. Not many running backs can say that when they come out of this league.”
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Johnson will bring versatility as a receiver, return man and pass blocker to an NFL team. Malzahn said “there’s no doubt” Johnson can be an every down back in the NFL and points to big games like those against national champion Alabama and runner-up Georgia in the regular season.
“He led our league in rushing and he played his best games against the best defenses in the country,” Malzahn said. “Not only can he be an every down back, I think he can be one of the best backs in the league.”
Other highlights from Auburn’s pro day:
—Davis, likely vying with Johnson to be Auburn’s highest pick and a potential first-rounder, cut his 40 time from the combine. His fastest pro day time was 4.47 seconds, compared to 4.53 at the combine. Davis has faced some questions about why he sat out Auburn’s Peach Bowl game with UCF.
“A lot of teams have asked me and I just told them I had a lot going on, especially coming off that concussion (in the Southeastern Conference championship game) and having a huge sinus infection. I wasn’t really ready to play my A-game, so I just decided to sit out.”
— Holland, who is widely projected as a mid-round pick, didn’t quite match his 4.79 40 time from the combine. After making 10 sacks in his first season as a starter, Holland has no shortage of confidence in his abilities.
“I think I’m the best at what I do,” he said. “I think I’m the best pass rusher in this class. I just want the coaches to know that. They can turn on the film, the numbers don’t lie. They can turn on the film and see.”
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