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Cleveland Browns Training Camp 2016: FB Preview

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

With the running backs finished, we move on to a related position: our fullback preview for the Cleveland Browns, featuring Malcolm Johnson and Patrick Skov.

1. MALCOLM JOHNSON - CAN HE IMPROVE UPON ROCK BOTTOM?

8276_mediumMalcolm Johnson (#42)

Height:
6-1 | Weight: 231
Age: 23 | Experience: 2 years
College: Mississippi State

Note: Disastrous rookie season all-around ... Criticized by PFF as being useless in run blocking, which I agree with.

A rookie sixth-round pick in 2015, Malcolm Johnson was the team's primary fullback to begin the season. He played in 12 games, typically seeing between 25-40% of the snaps per game, and finished the year with 4 catches for 15 yards and no carries.

Johnson struggled all year at hitting his blocks on injured reserve in early December with a groin injury. The Browns changed their run blocking scheme right around the time that Johnson got injured, and Cleveland's ground game took over for the final month of the season. Did Johnson's absence have anything to do with that? PFF called him a disaster in late-November last year, writing this scathing review of his play:

The Browns are one of the teams still using a fullback fairly regularly, although it’s not clear why. Johnson is our lowest-graded fullback, and it isn’t even close. He’s been essentially useless in run blocking, which is about the only thing fullbacks are really used for. In 136 snaps, he’s made just four positively-graded plays. That’s not a lot.

I didn't see anything in 2015 that makes me optimistic about Johnson's future with the club, especially with a new coaching staff. Once Hue Jackson sees Johnson's struggles, I can't imagine he sticks with him. I'd like to see E.J. Bibbs or Randall Telfer get a crack at the spot, but they are still penciled in at tight end.

Final Roster Odds: 25%



2. PATRICK SKOV - UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT FULLBACK

8276_mediumPatrick Skov (#48)

Height:
6-0 | Weight: 235
Age: 23 | Experience: Rookie
College: Georgia Tech

Note: Impressive bench press reps at 225 pounds during his Pro Day ... Played through shoulder injury in 2015.

Patrick Skov carried the ball 93 times for 377 yards (4.05 YPC) and 6 touchdowns in 2015 at Georgia Tech, and also had 3 catches for 44 yards. He played through a shoulder injury last year and had a hamstring injury before the draft that prevented him from fully participating at his Pro Day. Nonetheless, Cleveland must have liked something him enough to give him a closer look.

We don't know much about Skov's blocking ability at this point, but he does have strength, as evidenced by the amount of bench press reps he was able to put up during his Pro Day:

Skov finished the workout with 31 bench-press reps of 225 pounds, the most of any player testing Friday. Of all players at the NFL draft combine, only six had more reps, and Skov said he typically can bench 225 as many 35 times.

I think you could throw a dart at a board and find a better fullback candidate than Malcolm Johnson. Whether that fits the Browns' needs for the position remains to be seen; if Skov makes the team, it'd probably be more-so related to how well he does on special teams.

Final Roster Odds: 10%



Today's poll asks which fullback you think will make the team.