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NFL Draft

John Johnson III Signing Gives Browns Electric Safety Group

  • The Draft Network
  • March 15, 2021
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The Browns have reached a deal to acquire former Los Angeles Ram in John Johnson III, with both sides agreeing to a three-year, $33.75M contract.

In the grand scheme of things, Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods is going to have an absolute field day with his safeties group. Johnson now enters a room with the likes of Ronnie Harrison and Grant Delpit, the latter who’s expected to have a major impact within Woods’ defense fresh off an injury that hampered his ability to suit up during his rookie campaign. The former second-rounder will have a major role in Week 1.

On to Johnson, who departs Los Angeles after spending his first four seasons in the league roaming the third level of Sean McVay’s defense. A cornerstone of the Rams secondary since he was inserted into the starting lineup Week 5 of his rookie season, Johnson served as a team captain within the league’s top defensive unit in 2020. 

One of the more underrated safeties in the entire NFL, Johnson’s playmaking abilities hinge upon his skill to work in single-high, zone, or near the box—where he packs a punch creeping from the third level. 

He’s recorded eight interceptions thus far into his career and should build upon those numbers with new teammates Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams representing one of the league’s top young corner pairings. He also led Los Angeles his team with 105 tackles, while also allowing just four passes of 40 yards or more, the fewest in the NFL. A true centerfield-like athlete, Johnson will ideally start at free safety, with the aforementioned Harrison and Delpit working rotationally in three-safety packages that Woods has hinted at for months. The athleticism, speed, and cover ability off all three safeties, combined with Ward and Williams on the boundary, will create nightmares for opposing quarterbacks for years to come.

A former third-round selection out of Boston College, Johnson, just 25, reportedly also garnered interest from the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Jacksonville Jaguars before ultimately signing with Cleveland.

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