Rod Johnson begins Browns career seeing a familiar face, playing a familiar position

Rod Johnson and Cameron Erving are connected again, and Johnson couldn't be happier.

The former Florida State teammates were reunited Saturday when the Browns traded up to select Johnson in the fifth round with the No. 160 pick.

"When I first came to Florida State, Cam was one of the first guys to greet me," Johnson said. "He took me under his wings and showed me the ropes. I'm looking forward to him doing the same thing. I know he will."

Their respective paths to the NFL ultimately were forged on the same Nov. 2014 night in Miami, when Johnson made his first college start and Erving made the move to center.

The versatility Erving showed that night and the rest of the way at center drove up his draft value and made him a first-round pick. Johnson, meanwhile, never looked back, as he started the rest of the 2014 season and never missed another game at left tackle over the next two seasons.

"It was just an overwhelming time," Johnson said. "It moved so fast that I didn't have time to take it all in."

The feeling was similar on Day 3 of the draft when Johnson waited and waited before receiving a phone call from the Browns. It's a familiar landing spot for Johnson, who played for the Browns-coached South team at the Senior Bowl. He's one of three Senior Bowl players selected by the Browns, joining DL Larry Ogunjobi and RB Matthew Dayes.

While a number of college offensive linemen often switch positions in their transition to the NFL, Johnson will remain at left tackle as he begins his career in Cleveland.

"You are looking at a 6-7, 300-pound tackle with the movement skills to play on the left side. We will start him off there," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "He has played his entire career there at Florida State. We will see where he goes from that point."

As a fifth-round pick, Johnson won't come in with the expectations to start from Day 1. But as fellow fifth-round pick Spencer Drango and Erving can attest, opportunities abound when you least expect them. Both entered their respective rookie seasons as a reserve but were pressed into duty at positions they never played in college.

Even if he stays at left tackle, Johnson is still a work in progress, and he knows it. He'll be learning from one of the best to ever play the position, Joe Thomas, in an environment that features an all-too familiar face in Erving.

"I always come to work with the mentality that there is always room for improvement, even if it is 2 percent better than what I came into it with," Johnson said. "Everything from my pad level being lower to being even better in pass blocking, developmental things that help fine tune my technique and all of those things.

"I'm just blessed and thankful for the opportunity to go the Browns, an organization that [fits] me. I'm just ready to go to work."

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