Cleveland Browns: 5 safeties in the 2023 NFL Draft who could replace John Johnson III

Wyoming v Illinois
Wyoming v Illinois / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
2 of 5
Anthony Johnson Jr., Browns
Iowa State v Oklahoma State / Brian Bahr/GettyImages

4. Anthony Johnson Jr., Iowa State

A converted cornerback, Anthony Johnson Jr. has the ball skills, athleticism, size, IQ and experience to help the Cleveland Browns early on in his NFL career at free safety. The redshirt senior just made the move to safety in 2022, so he is still learning the nuances of the positions and would undoubtedly benefit from working under a veteran coach like Jim Schwartz.

Even if Cleveland does bring in a veteran safety, possibly on a short-term deal, drafting a player like Johnson Jr. late in the draft would be a good idea. He can take some time, learn from a veteran, and step into the role of starting free safety after just a year or two.

If Johnson Jr. is asked to start right away, his 54 career starts in the Big 12 at Iowa State should have prepared him well. He can cover receivers and tight ends in man to man given his background at corner, and is very fluid and instinctual when dropping in zone. Running a 4.54 forty-yard dash at the Combine just backed up the play-speed that you see from him on tape, flying around the field. He was also a captain for the Cyclones, adding more-much needed-leadership to the defense.'s Lance Zierlein's comparison for Anthony Johnson Jr. is actually John Johnson III, so bringing in a new Johnson to complement Grant Delpit could be a fun, and effective, move for the Browns. Some may worry about his age, saying that Johnson Jr. may not fit within Cleveland's guardrails at 23 years old, but being projected as a later-round pick, I think the Browns could take a stab at the potential fit.