Some predraft visits are clearly teams just getting information on a player that they will not have a chance to draft. For the Cleveland Browns, that is any player expected to be drafted within the first 50 selections or so. While the Browns have the 74th pick in the 2023 NFL draft, a small trade-up is always possible.
For Cleveland, it is more likely players visiting projected later in day two and day three (or undrafted free agents) that fans should want to get to know more about.
Oregon Ducks edge rusher D.J. Johnson is one of those interesting players. Listing Johnson as an edge rusher doesn’t do his college career justice. The former defensive end, tight end and linebacker had a predraft visit with the Browns:
Completed Top 30 visits for Oregon edge DJ Johnson, per source.— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) April 12, 2023
• Kansas City
• Las Vegas
Will finish up his pre-draft visits in San Francisco tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/rLOsUI6T37
After five sacks in his first year with the Ducks, Johnson switched to tight end to help the team out. He had 11 receptions for 124 yards and three touchdowns in his nine games as a tight end. As a senior, Johnson moved back to defense and racked up six sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.
The Draft Network has Johnson with a fourth-round grade in this year’s NFL draft. His athletic profile as a linebacker is an interesting combination of very good and not good at all:
DJ Johnson is a LB prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 8.32 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 414 out of 2465 LB from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/QDFPqcGcCh #RAS pic.twitter.com/WFxDEOPN78— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 19, 2023
The change of position has left Johnson raw as a defender but his speed could make him a good fit in Jim Schwartz’s wide-9 scheme. Interestingly, Johnson’s athletic profile compares most to Kayvon Thibodeaux and Josh Allen (the defensive end).
As Cleveland continues to rebuild the defense for Schwartz, defensive end only has four players under contract. While Myles Garrett and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo are expected to create problems for offenses, Alex Wright struggled as a rookie and Isaiah Thomas showed some flashes but had his own struggles.
If the Browns address other positions with their first two picks, both in the third round, picking up Johnson with one of their two fourth rounds picks would make sense.