Four questions on Cleveland Browns RB Duke Johnson with Canes Warning


Aug 30, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson (8) runs past Florida Atlantic Owls defensive back Keith Reaser (3) during the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Duke Johnson is ready to make NFL defenders look silly.

The Cleveland Browns selected Johnson in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft after watching Johnson rush for 3,519 yards and total 5,523 all-purpose yards at the University of Miami. Those are both school records – and Johnson did it in just three seasons with the Hurricanes.

“He’s got a complete skillset that can affect our roster in multiple ways,” general manager Ray Farmer said after selecting Johnson with the 77th overall pick. “We love the fact that he’s quick and agile, well balanced. One of my favorite things that I’ve watched is when you watch the kid run through trash and if guys are on the ground, he can jump over people, hit the ground and still make a cut and keep balance.

“The guy is talented and he’s been productive. Regardless of how he fits in, I think the guy is going to get opportunities to carry the ball, catch it and contribute on special teams.”

In addition to his explosiveness as a runner, Johnson had 69 career receptions at Miami for 719 yards and four touchdowns. Johnson’s 38 receptions for the Hurricanes in 2014 were more than all the Browns running backs combined for last season, making him an instant threat to be in the backfield on passing downs.

“Duke Johnson can make you miss, and he can also make you look silly in the process.’’ – Mike Mayock, NFL Network

“I think I am unpredictable,” Johnson told the team’s website. “I’m a one-cut kind of guy, hit a hole and see it. I can make things happen (and am) very versatile out of the backfield. I can line up at receiver and create mismatches out of the backfield.”

To learn a bit more about what Johnson brings to the Browns, we turned to Juan Toribio at Canes Warning for a four-question Q&A on the latest addition to Cleveland’s backfield.

Question: What are the Browns getting in Duke Johnson?

Juan: The Browns are getting an absolute steal in Duke Johnson. Every Miami Hurricane fan fell in love with Duke from the first time he put on a Hurricane helmet. In his first collegiate game, he went for more than 100 yards on the ground and two long touchdown runs. And he did some damage in the return game, too.

Johnson was the best player on the Canes the last three seasons, and he came back better every single year. He’s the all-time leading rusher in Miami history (a list that has some really good names) and he’s a guy that works extremely hard and is all about the team. The Browns are getting a very good football player and you’ll soon fall in love with him as we all did in Miami.

Question: Johnson is projected by some as a third-down back, can he be a feature back if called on?

Juan: I have no doubt that he can be a featured back in the NFL. Yes, he doesn’t have the prototypical height and weight (Johnson is 5-foot-9, 207 pounds) but he’s a guy that runs bigger than he is. Like I mentioned in the last question, he’s the all-time leading rusher in Miami and he was the featured back for the Canes during his sophomore and junior year. He broke the all-time rushing record and he missed the second half of his sophomore season with an injury. That’s how good of a running back he is.

Question: The Browns want to use their running backs more in the passing game, can Johnson fill that role?

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Juan: Absolutely. Johnson actually finished second on the team in receptions last year, behind only Clive Walford who’s now in the NFL. Duke had two more receptions than Phillip Dorsett, who went in the first round to the Indianapolis Colts. Offensive coordinator James Coley wanted to put the ball in Johnson’s hands in any way possible. He lined up in the slot, in the backfield, out wide, literally anywhere on the field. There really isn’t anything Johnson can’t do on the football field.

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

Juan: I think Browns fans are going to love how hard he plays and his work ethic. That sounds a little bit corny, but very few people play with the same fire that Duke Johnson does. He’s a guy that even with all the talent he has, he always feels like he can be so much better. I don’t know how the depth chart is going to look in Cleveland, but I know that he’s going to push whoever is in front of him, and they should be really scared about that.

Johnson has spent the past three seasons making defenders in the ACC look silly.

Now the Browns are hoping he can do the same to defenders in the AFC North come the fall.

What do you think of Duke Johnson in the Browns’ backfield?

Next: Browns Draft Class at No. 2 in Power Rankings