The Cleveland Browns and GM Andrew Berry have been sorta quiet in this year’s free agency period. This time last year, the Browns had inked RT Jack Conklin, Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper, MLB B.J. Goodson and made a trade for Cleveland Browns Jerseys China FB Andy Janovich all on the first day of free agency. Four days later came the signings of QB Case Keenum, KR JoJo Natson and CB Donovan Olumba followed by DT Andrew Billings and C Evan Brown.
And before it was over a dozen new players found the City of Cleveland their new home in a span of 24 days.
One of the position areas that needed some infusion of veteran talent after this year’s playoff run of 2020 was the secondary. At cornerback, Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams are expected to man the outside areas while veteran Terrance Mitchell has since signed with Houston. Perhaps another veteran signing is in the works or another young guy will be drafted.
At the safety position, there are quite a few questions that maybe had answers – and then again – maybe didn’t.
Ronnie Harrison has proven to be an exceptional deep cover guy at the strong safety position who is a terrific tackler. At free safety, that is where things were a bit fuzzy.
Sheldrick Redwine was the only holdover at that spot. Last year, the Browns drafted Grant Delpit out of LSU in the second-round. Berry then signed Andrew Sendejo and Karl Joseph as veteran presence until Delpit was ready to slide into a safety position. Except, Delpit became injured with a ruptured Achilles just a week into training camp and found the IR his resting spot after surgery for his entire rookie season.
And now, supposedly Delpit is ready to compete for a starting position – even though this year will basically become his rookie season all over again. The grueling rehab process is over with. There will be some clarity as to what type of player he actually is despite his high draft status.
It has been clarified that Cleveland is just pieces away from becoming one of the better teams in the AFC. And the lack of quality defensive players is mentioned as what this club needs to accomplish during this off-season. Right out of the gate, Berry signs John Johnson as the newest Brown.
It became clear the switch had flipped
John Johnson is actually John Johnson, III. He was just a skinny kid growing up in Hyattsville, Maryland, but loved sports especially basketball. He made the varsity hoops team at Northwestern High School as a sophomore and became their starting point guard.
Shortly after football season ended in his junior year and into the current basketball season, one day out of the blue Johnson abruptly quit the basketball squad and announced he was devoting his time and energy to his other love – football.
He then could be found most days in the weight room; and after a while bulked up 15 pounds to coincide with his growth spurt. From there, he had a determination to succeed on the football field as a three-way player at receiver, safety and kick returner. He learned to make sacrifices and work hard for the payout.
“John is the most fiery, competitive, driven young man that I have coached,” said Steve Rapp, who coached Johnson at Northwestern High. “He played everything except the D-Line and the O-Line. He would go, ‘Alright, well I could throw the ball farther than you. Well, I’m faster than you. I can hit harder. I can cover better. You need me to do that, coach? No problem. I got it. He just – he’s got the dog in him. He’s got the dog.”
Johnson stopped playing basketball because he decided that he was going to just train his whole junior year, lift weights, get bigger, get stronger and hopefully get faster.
It was in high school that Johnson learned to handle the defensive play-calling duties. He would ingest game plans and was the unmistakable leader of that unit. He was named First Team All-4A (selected at both WR and DB), First Team All-Gazette and Second Team All-State.
All of his high school success got the attention of quite a few colleges. Johnson was only rated as a two-star recruit and ranked Number 2,085 in the nation. He had a 3.2 core grade-point-average and his solid SAT score enabled more D-1 schools to take notice, especially the more academic-inclined colleges. So, he had options – 10 to be exact from schools such as Missouri, UMass, Pittsburgh and Duke.