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Browns have plans to utilize Duke Johnson as a weapon

Compared to running backs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell – both 225-pounders – Duke Johnson brings an entirely different skill set to the Cleveland Browns' running back room.

And that's just what general manager Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine have been preaching this entire draft: versatility.

Johnson, Cleveland's third-round pick (77th overall) out of the University of Miami, is an explosive track athlete with a knack for hitting home runs as evidenced by his 6.7 yards per carry in three seasons with the Hurricanes.

In fact, Johnson holds Miami's all-time record for career rushing yards – more than Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore or Willis McGahee managed. Johnson is a serious playmaker and a defensive coordinator's nightmare.

Perhaps the biggest variance between the trio of running backs is Johnson's hands. His 38 receptions and 421 receiving yards kept opposing linebackers worrying all game long about when and where he was going to get the football.

The Browns are viewing Johnson as more than just a running back: He's a weapon.

"Definitely a guy that I thought running the ball, could catch the ball; a dynamic player returning kicks- can catch punts," said Farmer, who later compared Johnson to Bengals running back Giovanni Bernard and former Eagles Pro Bowler Brian Westbrook.

"He's got a unique skill set that will affect our roster in multiple ways. We love the fact that he's quick and agile. One of my favorite things that I've watched is you watch the kid run through trash and if guys are on the ground, he'll jump over people, hit the ground and make a cut and keep balance. A lot of good things we like from him."

Pettine and Farmer were clear that the selection of Johnson is not an indictment of West and Crowell. In fact, Pettine went out of his way to say West has "untapped potential."

But the uncommon skill set of Johnson was just too juicy to pass.

"We're in the 'whatever it takes business.' I think running the football is going to be important, and a big part of what we do," Pettine said." I think we'll do some things in the passing game as well with more controlled type runs: swing screens, running back screens and getting the ball to the guys in space. We feel we have plenty of those types of playmakers."

The word competition defines how the Browns set their roster, and the addition of Johnson maintains that theory.

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