Four questions on Cleveland Browns FB Malcolm Johnson


Oct 11, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs tight end Malcolm Johnson (6) hangs onto the ball Auburn Tigers defensive back Joshua Holsey (15) during the first quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Malcolm Johnson, a sixth-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns, is an interesting player.

The 6-foot-1, 231-pound Johnson was listed as a tight end at Mississippi State, but also lined up as an H-back, wide receiver and, occasionally, as a fullback in head coach Dan Mullen’s offense.

It is at fullback that the Browns currently have Johnson listed on the roster as new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is looking to create as many weapons as possible for Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel or whoever happens to line up under center each week for the Browns.

A Second Team All-SEC selection in 2014, Johnson possesses a “strong, well-built frame and sticky hand to make tough grabs,” according to, which also writes that, “given the expansion of passing attacks in the NFL, scouts are increasingly on the lookout for versatile pass-catchers who present tough matchups for defenders. Johnson, who has split time at receiver and tight end throughout his career and possesses good hands and a knack for the big play, is an intriguing option.”

Last season for the Bulldogs, Johnson caught 39 passes for 391 yards and a pair of touchdowns, so he can catch the ball. The question that the Browns will be looking to answer is whether or not Johnson can be effective opening holes for Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.

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Pro Football Focus, for one, believes that Johnson should be up to the task, writing that he is a “versatile player who lined up all over the formation at Mississippi State, though spent most of his snaps inline. As a receiver, only four players caught a higher percentage of passes thrown his way and Johnson had at least 10 more targets than any of them without a single drop. Also fared well in screen and run blocking.”

For his part, Johnson sounds up to the challenge.

“I feel like I can be a big asset to the offense coming up this year just on offense, and special teams,” Johnson told the team’s website. “Basically (I’m) versatile and able to (play) more than one position so basically a tight end, fullback and H-back. That’s what I expressed to them I could do, and they’ll hold me accountable to that and I appreciate it.”

To find out more on the versatile Johnson, we reached out to Maroon & White Nation and Justin Strawn was nice enough to answer four quick questions on Johnson.

Question: What are the Browns getting in Johnson?

Justin: You’re getting a player who will surprise people. It’s what he has done his entire career. As a matter of fact, no one was really talking about him getting drafted and it caught everyone by surprise. Johnson is a hard-working player who is going to push the players in front of him. He’s a bit of a tweener, and that alone probably caused him to not be as highly recruited out of high school. Johnson is extremely athletic. If you need proof, check out this grab against Tennessee in 2012:

Question: Is he a tight end, wide receiver or fullback?

Justin: Like I said, he’s a bit of a tweener. He played receiver coming out of high school and Dan Mullen converted him to tight end. My guess is Johnson will be sculpted to wherever the Browns need.

Question: He was a quiet leader in college; how will that help him in college?

Justin: He’s not the type to get up in front and fire up the team, but he is more than capable of leading by the way he plays.

Question: What is one thing about Johnson that Browns fans are going to love?

Justin: I’d go with his athleticism. Johnson is very much a player in the same mold that this new wave of NFL tight ends fits into. Not as big, but still strong enough to block, and quick and athletic enough to catch passes.

To learn more about the newest addition to the Browns’s backfield, check out Josh Barnhill’s article at Maroon & White Nation.

What do you think of Malcolm Johnson as a fullback for the Cleveland Browns?

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