Sep 28, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson (8) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Browns have signed third-round draft pick Duke Johnson, according to general manager Ray Farmer.
Johnson, a running back out of Miami, is the final of the club’s 12 draft picks from the 2015 NFL Draft to sign his contract. Heading into this week’s mandatory three-day minicamp, Johnson was one of just 12 draft picks who were still unsigned.
Related: Four questions on Duke Johnson
The Browns selected Johnson with the 77th overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft after watching Johnson rush for 3,519 yards and total 5,523 all-purpose yards at the University of Miami. Johnson rushed for 1,652 yards last season and finished college career as the Hurricanes’ all-time leading rusher – ahead of Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore and Alonzo Highsmith.
“I’m a change-of-pace back. I can line up anywhere. I’m looking forward to the different ways they use me as a receiver or the backfield.” – Running back Duke Johnson
Judging from the comments made by running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, the Browns have big plans for Johnson as the team looks to build on last season’s growth in the running game.
“He’s going to be all over the field,” Montgomery told ESPN about Johnson. “He gives you another dimension. He creates one-on-one problems. We hope he can be a little bit like the kid [Giovani] Bernard in Cincinnati. If he can do that for us, that gives us a different perspective on how we approach the field and gives us a chance to move people around and taking advantage of a mismatch.”
Despite not being under contract, Johnson was a full participant in the recently completed Organized Team Activities as he wanted to impress the coaches with what he brings to the field.
“I want to give us another dimension on offense,” Johnson told the team’s website. “It could help us out with mismatches, when need be. I think I came out here and showed what I can do, and I had fun with the guys.”
Even though Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell combined to rush for 1,280 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, Johnson should push them for playing time and just may be talented enough to take over as the primary back before the end of the season.