Can Malcolm Johnson find a way to bounce back in his second season? Or will Johnson be the latest failed fullback for the Cleveland Browns?
In the sixth round of the 2015 NFL draft the Cleveland Browns drafted Malcolm Johnson out of Mississippi State University (pick 195 overall). Johnson played tight end for the Bulldogs and finished his collegiate career with a total of 79 passes for over 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns. Though Johnson played primarily as a tight end in college, the Browns plan for Johnson was to convert him into a fullback capable of being a receiving option out of the backfield. Johnson made it through the preseason and won the starting full back job. Johnson had a rough rookie campaign getting sent down to the practice squad at one point during the season. Though Johnson eventually got called up to the active roster, he never managed to become a starting caliber fullback. Johnson finished the 2015 season with four catches for 15 yards. Can Johnson find a way to bounce back in his second season? Or is Johnson the latest failed fullback for the Cleveland Browns?
Why Johnson will boom for the Browns.
Johnson was taking on a new position for the Browns in 2015. It is difficult enough to transition from college to the NFL as is, and nearly impossible to make a flawless transition when asked to make a position change as well. Johnson could benefit from a full year of fullback under his belt heading into year two. Johnson’s experience at tight end, route running ability, and decent hands should help him develop into one of the better pass catching fullbacks in the league. Johnson possesses ideal size for a fullback and has solid athletic ability as well.
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Why Johnson will bust for the Browns.
Johnson got sent down to the practice squad in his rookie season, and that was by the regime who drafted him. This new regime has no reason to give Johnson the benefit of the doubt. Johnson struggled to help get the run game going and wasn’t the road grader the Browns hoped they could turn him into. Johnson has nice hands coming out of the backfield, but if he cannot be a bigger force in the blocking game the team could find different options to take his place in 2016. Cleveland already has added undrafted free agent fullback, Patrick Skov, who has much more experience at the fullback position. Skov may have the leg up on Johnson heading into camp this fall.
Will Johnson boom or bust.
I cannot see Johnson making this team in year two. Originally I though there was a chance Johnson would survive, but the more I watch Johnson on film the more it is clear that he is not going to be the answer at fullback. Skov was brought in by the Browns as an undrafted free agent this year, and he might be too much for Johnson to overcome. I wouldn’t completely rule out E.J. Bibbs making a possible switch to fullback either. Right now Johnson looks to be a one and done player and a bust.