By: J.D. Bagley @jdbagley5
Earlier this summer, Duke Johnson made his request to be traded out of Cleveland publicly known after the Browns signed former Chiefs back Kareem Hunt. GM John Dorsey and Freddie Kitchens had repeatedly stated throughout the entire process that Johnson had a big role carved out in this offense and “we will not give away the good players.” Well, on the morning of the Browns first preseason game, news has broken that Johnson has been traded to the Houston Texans for a 2020 4th-round pick that has the potential of becoming a 3rd rounder. With Kareem Hunt suspended for the first eight games of the season, second-year undrafted rookie Dontrell Hilliard, who has impressed thus far in camp, will presumably take the backup role to Nick Chubb for the first half of 2019. This also opens up the door for training camp attendees D’Ernest Johnson and A.J. Ouellette to make the final 53-man roster. We should get a solid look at all three of these running backs tonight against Washington.
A fourth round pick that may become a third, likely based on Johnson’s playing time and/or contributions to the Texans this season (he must be active for at least 10 games to officially make the pick occur in the third round), is good compensation for a pass-catching/change-of-pace back who wanted out of Cleveland anyway. With John Dorsey pulling the trigger on draft night, Browns fans should feel confident in his ability to find talent in the middle and later rounds as he has done so often. Picks by Dorsey in the third round and beyond include: Travis Kelce, Steven Nelson, Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, Antonio Callaway and Genard Avery.
Although Duke Johnson will provide a nice weapon out of the backfield for Deshaun Watson, looking at this from the Texans prospective is slightly puzzling. In my opinion, they gave up a little too much for Johnson, who isn’t a guy you’d want handling a full workload. The real problem they needed to solve is the offensive line; if they don’t, Watson won’t make it through the season. He is way too talented of a quarterback to be protected the way he is, and his escapability is the only reason the Texans' offensive line doesn’t give up the most sacks in the league by a wide margin.