NFL Nation reporters from the AFC North -- Jeremy Fowler, Coley Harvey, Jamison Hensley and Pat McManamon -- have reviewed the film and sorted through the analytics to determine the 2015 annual awards for the division. On Wednesday, we're handing out the AFC North rookie of the year.
Winner: Duke Johnson
Runner-up: Bud Dupree
There were some good rookies in the AFC North in 2015, but there weren't a lot of sit-up-and-take-notice guys. Bud Dupree and Danny Shelton had nice seasons, but weren't eye-popping. Buck Allen ran for 514 yards.
One rookie did stand out, though, excelling in the role the team asked of him. Browns running back Duke Johnson had 61 receptions for 534 yards. The 61 receptions tied for the second-highest by a Browns rookie ever (behind Kevin Johnson's 66 in 1999), and he finished second in receptions, fifth in yards from scrimmage (913) and sixth in receiving yards among NFL rookies.
The only rookie with more receptions than Johnson: Oakland's Amari Cooper, who had 72. Johnson's total yards were just 154 shy of Cooper's, 125 less than Arizona's David Johnson and 106 less than Jacksonville's T.J. Yeldon.
ProFootballFocus.com broke it down a little more. Johnson had 23 third-down receptions, 11 for a first down and one for a touchdown. He led the league with 26 missed tackles on his 61 receptions. And he dropped just three of 64 catchable throws.
The Browns began the season believing Johnson could be an every-down back. But a hamstring injury and a concussion in the preseason set him back. As the year went on, he shared the carries with Isaiah Crowell, but was the team's best receiver out of the backfield. Former offensive coordinator John DeFilippo used Johnson wisely, as he probably was not big enough to endure the physical toll of playing on every down. Johnson needs to work on his blocking, but he has good hands, showed nifty agility and has speed to run away from people.
The 2015 season was generally dismal for all involved in Cleveland. But Johnson at least gives the Browns a piece to build upon.