2016 Cleveland Browns roster analysis: The running backs

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins
NFL: Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins /

Duke Johnson Jr.

Age: 23 

Experience: 2 years 

Contract Status: Free agent in 2019 

The second-year running back was the primary receiving back in Hue Jackson’s offense. Johnson played a similar role to Jackson that Giovanni Bernard did in Cincinnati. However, Johnson struggled to find consistency in the new offensive scheme. Johnson received 31 fewer carries than a season ago and often could not get in a solid rhythm as pieces were ever-changing on the offense.

Johnson is one of the best athletes and playmakers on the Browns offense. Hue Jackson must find ways to give him a larger role in both the passing game and running game next season. Johnson is a versatile player that is best when used in multiple roles. He is a shifty playmaker who excels when he has the ball in space and can create yards for himself.

Using screens and designed pass plays out of the backfield for Johnson will utilize his strengths and improve the offense. As a running back, Johnson is the perfect change of pace back to pair with Crowell. Johnson is an explosive one-cut runner who does his best work outside the tackles.

Johnson has playmaking ability to create in space and find daylight. Duke has a great combination of speed, quickness and explosiveness and the Browns must create more opportunities for him to make plays moving forward.

2016 Stats: 

Rushing: Att  Yds   Y/A   TD   

                  73   358   4.9    1 

Receiving: Rec  Yds   TD 

                    53    514    0 

2017 Outlook: 

Johnson is more of a home run threat than Crowell and gives them game-changing speed and playmaking ability. Johnson posted similar numbers to his rookie season. With another offseason in Hue Jackson’s offense, expect Johnson to have an expanded role in 2017 as a do it all running back creating a 1A and 1B option between Crowell and himself.

C+. The Browns offense struggled to gain traction this past season and it affected Johnson’s role. Crowell was used as the team’s primary rusher while Johnson was the change of pace back. With many different changes at the quarterback position it was hard for the offense to create opportunities for the speedster Johnson. Despite this Johnson still totaled 872 total yards, showcasing his natural playmaking ability.. RB, Cleveland Browns. . Duke Johnson Jr.