We've signed FB Johnny Stanton
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 28, 2020
So, who exactly is Johnny Stanton?
First, the signing presumably has a lot to do with Stanton’s previous ties with new head coach Kevin Stefanski.
The former UNLV Runnin’ Rebel was signed by the Vikings in 2018 as an undrafted free agent.
He was placed on the injured reserve during roster cuts, however, and spent all of 2019 on Minnesota’s practice squad.
About two weeks ago, Stefanski was on the Browns subreddit participating in an AMA with fans.
One fan asked Stefanski about potentially using fullbacks in the offensive scheme for 2020. Stefanski responded with this:
“I have a healthy respect for the full back position. I think it gives you some versatility – because the defense has a hard time knowing whether we’ll be in a one-back, two-back or empty set. In addition, and maybe most importantly, the full back brings a physical aspect to our football team, which is very important to me.”
The Browns really did not utilize a fullback in 2019, nor did they really even have one to use on the roster.
Stefanski used fullback CJ Ham a lot last year in Minnesota.
In fact, per ProFootballFocus.com, the Ham’s snap count ranked second-highest among NFL fullbacks.
— PFTCommenter (@PFTCommenter) December 30, 2019
Stanton weighs in at 240 pounds and stands 6’2”.
That’s plenty of size to take on linebackers around the league and create bigger running lanes for Nick Chubb.
In addition, Stanton should already have a good feel for Stefanski’s system since the two shared time in Minnesota.
Having one less guy that needs to understand and learn his system will be a welcome sight for the new head coach.
What’s even more intriguing about Stanton is that he has not always been a fullback during his football playing days.
As opposed to lining up in the backfield, however, he lined up under center as a quarterback at both schools.
He appeared in just one game as a Cornhusker and completed just one pass.
At UNLV, he played ten total games as a quarterback in two seasons.
He also played linebacker on defense, a unique combination to say the least.
Possessing the smarts of a division one quarterback while also having the physicality of a linebacker makes the signing an interesting one.
This upcoming draft class is not exactly beaming with studs at fullback.
In fact, not one true fullback was invited to the Senior Bowl.
It seems that many coaches at basically every level of football from high school and up choose to use undersized tight ends as their “fullback” instead of the classic fullback position.
Because of that, it could be argued that high-quality fullbacks are much tougher to find.
I mean, when’s the last time you heard a kid say he aspired to be an NFL fullback some day?
There’s a lot of physicality involved being the typical lead blocker.
Plus, the fullback never gets the fame and glory from the running back scoring touchdowns.
Being able to find a talented guy who assumes a true fullback role on the roster is a big win for a team, especially when you have a coach that will utilize him.