Cleveland Browns: John Johnson III is embracing a leadership role

Cleveland Browns safety John Johnson III runs drills during an NFL football practice at the team's training facility, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Berea, Ohio.Browns 13
Cleveland Browns safety John Johnson III runs drills during an NFL football practice at the team's training facility, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Berea, Ohio.Browns 13 /

John Johnson is new to the Cleveland Browns roster, but he’s already standing out as a leader

The Cleveland Browns are hoping John Johnson III will enhance the secondary this upcoming season and he’s already embracing a leadership role with the team.

When the Browns signed Johnson to a three-year deal worth $33 million earlier in the offseason, it was arguably the best free-agent signing across the board in terms of production on the field and the money.

This is a relatively cheap deal for one of the league’s best safeties and a deal he chose over bigger offers on the table. Before this continues, shout out to ESPN’s Mina Kimes who spoke this into existence back in January.

Johnson spent the first four years of his professional career with the Los Angeles Rams, where he put up solid numbers. In his time in the City of Angels, Johnson played in 54 games, racking up eight interceptions, 32 passes defended a forced fumble, and 350 combined tackles, including 73 solo in 2020.

Last year in LA, Johnson was the quarterback of the defense, the player that wore the green sticker on his helmet and called the plays. This year, Johnson will relinquish that role to linebacker Anthony Walker, who was also acquired in free agency in the spring.

The Rams also boasted the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense, thanks to Johnson and cornerback Troy Hill, who also signed with the hometown Browns during free agency.

In the latest episode of “Building the Browns,” defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator, Jeff Howard, said Johnson has the “Ability to connect with everyone, the whole DB room.”

Right after that head coach Kevin Stefanski praised Johnson for what he has been able to do for the DB room.

“John has been great for the young DBs, seeing a guy do it the right way, who studies at his craft. I think he’s going to be a really, really nice addition to the back end,” Stefanski said.

During the episode, it shows scenes from minicamp earlier this summer where Johnson is hyping up his teammates and chatting with them on the field. One noticeable line from the interaction was what he learned from Lamarcus Joyner, a fellow safety on the Rams team during Johnson’s rookie campaign.

“You want to know what a wise man once told me? Every third down like the Super Bowl, bruh. If you the weak link on third down, you not gonna last long in this league,” Johnson told his teammates.

That piece will be crucial for the Browns this season if they hope to head to Los Angeles for the Super Bowl. Johnson said Joyner didn’t say much, but that stuck with him ever since his rookie year.

“You make the biggest plays on third down when the offense needs you. You may not make a spectacular play, but you at least gotta do your job,” Johnson said.

That aligns with what Stefanski preaches to the team in doing the work and doing their jobs.

“Being a leader, I think it came naturally. I think today at minicamp, with everyone here in kind of came out a little bit,” Johnson said.

Having someone like Johnson will certainly help young guys like Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit, who are both returning from injuries that cost them the 2020 season. Johnson had high praise for both of those young players along with rookie Greg Newsome II during minicamp.

“Greg [Newsome] jumps out to me. He’s a first-rounder, high expectations. He’s listening. He’s coachable. He’s a sponge. Grant [Delpit] and Greedy [Williams], they’ve done nothing but work. No complaining. The professionalism of this organization is second to none,” Johnson said.

In another act of leadership, while having a standout day during Saturday’s training camp practice, Johnson dropped in an interception and immediately dropped to the ground to do pushups. He was joined by Walker. That shows everyone, especially younger players, to take accountability for their actions.

This signing was a major one for general manager Andrew Berry and one that should provide a huge boost to the back end of the revamped defense, especially playing alongside Ronnie Harrison II and a (hopefully) healthy Grant Delpit.

Next. 3 Cleveland Browns who will outperform their 2021 contract. dark

Leadership is key to any successful team and John Johnson III is the right guy to come in and be a leader almost from the jump for a team ascending up the ranks in the NFL.