Honestly, anybody on the Browns roster could be picked as a breakout candidate as so many of them left a lot to be desired last season. However, Johnson really does stand out as a good choice for several reasons.
First of all, he’s talented. As the Hurricanes lead back in his final year, he rushed for 1652 yards and 10 touchdowns at 6.8 yards per carry. He also added another 421 yards and 3 touchdowns on 38 catches. He has the talent to be a dangerous runner and a very effective pass catcher – as he showed last year for the Browns (he was third on the team with receptions with 61).
Secondly, the Browns now have a head coach and offensive staff that actually make me think the Browns could be onto something decent in Hue Jackson. What makes that even more applicable to Johnson, is that Jackson very vocally praised and showed his love for Giovani Bernard. Now, Johnson is not as good as Bernard, certainly not yet, but he is a very similar type of player and can certainly be utilised in the same ways as Bernard was by Jackson. Furthermore, couple Johnson with Isiah Crowell and Jackson can look to replicate the running back system he thrived with in Cincinnati – Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill.
Thirdly, though Crowell figures to take away some of Johnson’s workload, his presence should only improve Johnson’s impact, like Hill’s presence does with Bernard. Sure, Crowell figures to be the team’s short yardage back and possibly the workhorse, but he hasn’t really shown that much to say that he should get a significantly larger work load than Johnson, especially considering Johnson’s versatility. Crowell may be the team’s ‘starter’, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson have a bigger year.
Finally, he’s now got a year’s worth of experience. That experience is invaluable and their can often be a big jump in production in a players second year.