CLEVELAND -- A few quick thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' third-round draft pick.
The pick: Duke Johnson, running back, Miami
My take: The Browns need more playmaking and get plenty of that with Johnson, the Hurricanes’ all-time leading rusher with 3,519 yards. The Browns double down on a team strength, the running game, complementing Johnson’s change-of-pace with Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West. Cleveland can use Johnson in the backfield passing game, which was lacking a year ago, when Crowell and West combined for 151 receiving yards. The 5-foot-9, 207-pound Johnson will face questions of durability because of his size and his torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2013. But Johnson answered those concerns with 1,652 rushing yards last season. Johnson has 4.5 speed but is quicker than that in the open field with the ability to make defenders miss. He has 26 career rushing touchdowns and four receiving scores.
Run, run, run: The Browns invested two of their first four picks into running the ball, with Florida State center Cameron Erving the team's 19th overall pick. The Browns ran the ball 477 times last season and could run even more in 2015. Though Johnson describes himself as an “unpredictable, one-cut kind of guy, hit a hole and see it,” he expects to line up all over the field, including as a slot receiver in some packages. “Creating mismatches, seeing how this offense goes,” Johnson said. New coordinator John DeFilippo should find creative ways to use Johnson, who had 31 rushes of at least 15 yards at Miami.
Reconnecting the ‘U’ Browns: Johnson knows Browns receiver Travis Benjamin, who also played for Miami before the Browns drafted him in 2012. The two are friends and keep in touch. The Browns have invested in Hurricanes in the past, taking tight end Kellen Winslow No. 6 overall in 2004 and quarterback Bernie Kosar in the first round of the 1985 supplemental draft.