The two parts to our running back preview are complete, so now it’s time to look at the fullback position on the Browns roster — a spot that is sure to get increased utilization under new head coach Kevin Stefanski.
1. Andy Janovich - Starting FB
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 238 lbs | Age: 27
Experience: 5 years | College: Nebraska
Back in March, the Browns acquired Andy Janovich from the Denver Broncos in exchange for a 7th round draft pick. Janovich was a 6th round pick by the Broncos in 2016, but played in just 7 games last year due to a dislocated elbow. The Broncos signed Janovich to a three-year contract extension last October, when GM John Elway praised him as one of the best fullbacks in the league, as well as a great special teams player.
Why trade him so quickly, then? Because the Broncos hired Pat Shurmur to be their new offensive coordinator this offseason, and he doesn’t place a premium on fullbacks in his offense. Stefanski, on the other hand, will use him plenty:
“He’s a schematic fit to what we want to be,” Stefanski said. “He has all the intangibles you think of when you think of fullbacks. He’s as tough as they come. He’s a team player through and through. Fits the mentality of what we’re trying to be.”
Last year, Stefanski used his fullback more than anyone in the NFL except for Kyle Shanahan’s usage of Kyle Juszczyk. Over at Cleveland.com, Ellis Williams did a great job breaking down Janovich’s skillset and how we might see him utilized in Cleveland. Per Pro Football Focus, Janovich had the 3rd highest run blocking grade among fullbacks last year. When you think of the type of players Cleveland has added this offseason (Janovich, Austin Hooper, Jack Conklin), it is clear that the team was aggressive in adding solid players who fit Stefanski’s scheme.
Took a look at Andy Janovich and how he fits Cleveland's new offensive scheme for 2020.— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) March 26, 2020
What roles he can fill outside the traditional FB role, and how his blocking + athleticism make him a unique football player and one the #Browns will use often.
READ: https://t.co/m8haJPCFZY pic.twitter.com/Hc8F31PmKZ
Final Roster Odds: 95%
2. Johnny Stanton - Backup FB
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 240 lbs | Age: 25
Experience: 2 years | College: UNLV
Stanton signed with the Vikings in 2018 as an undrafted free agent, and landed on injured reserve when roster cuts were due. Last year, he spent the season on Minnesota’s practice squad. That equates to two years of experience getting some schematic reps in a Kevin Stefanski offense, which is a reason the Browns signed him to a reserve/future contract in January. That was prior to the Browns acquiring Janovich to be their primary fullback. DBN’s Thomas Moore has an article with more backround on Stanton here.
Interestingly enough, Stanton was initially a quarterback at UNLV, before trying the linebacker position. He knew he wasn’t going to get much NFL attention as a quarterback, so he trained to convert to a tight end, and then the Vikings converted him to a fullback:
“My playing time at UNLV was hampered by some injuries, and I when I returned I wasn’t able to win my quarterback job back, I chose to think of it as an opportunity to learn more of the game. I ended up asking to play some special teams. After a few games, the linebacker coach asked me if I could give the LB room some depth, so I moved there in the middle of the season. After finishing the year again at QB, I knew that if I was going to get any interest from NFL teams, I’d have to show that I was an athlete who was versatile. I began training at TE and when Minnesota signed me, they switched me to Fullback, which feels very natural now.”
It’s good to have depth at any position. If Janovich goes down with an injury this offseason, Stanton could be the primary fullback. Otherwise, I don’t think he’ll make the final roster, but maybe he’ll stick around on the practice squad.
Final Roster Odds: <5%
Are you excited to have a head coach who cares about fullbacks again?
This poll is closed
Yes, it’s about time!
Meh, we’ll see.
It’s a waste of a position these days.