Though it had its moments, the running back position was subpar in Cleveland after Nick Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Browns stuck with Jerome Ford as their lead back, and he showed flashes but not enough to think he is the long-term back for the Browns.
Though it isn’t as good of a running back class as last year, there are still plenty of options in this year’s draft. With no true superstars at the top, the Browns could find themselves on the board in the second round with no running backs gone before their first pick.
General manager Andrew Berry will likely find a way to re-work Chubb’s contract to bring him back, but the Browns must think about getting a long-term option at the position, and drafting one early would do just that.
Here are four running back options Cleveland should consider when April’s draft arrives.
Jonathon Brooks, Texas
Jonathon Brooks is the best running back in this year’s class in my opinion and if the Browns want to find a successor to Chubb and Brooks is on the board they must pounce on it. He was buried on the depth chart last year but Brooks got his chance this year before his injury and boy did he deliver.
Brooks is a big play waiting to happen with the best vision in the class who will find a cutback lane if it is there. He isn’t just a speedy back as he has great contact balance and power to get extra yardage consistently.
Brooks screams Andrew Berry’s pick as he will only be 21 as a rookie and has the most upside of any runner in this year’s class.
Jonathon Brooks is silky smooth and patient.
— Alfredo Brown (@ThePretendGM) January 30, 2024
Bucky Irving, Oregon
If you are looking for elite topline speed at the position Oregon’s Bucky Irving is the guy for you. He accelerates in a hurry and he probably has the best top speed of anyone in this class. This year for the Ducks he averaged over six yards per carry with 11 touchdowns and a ridiculous 69 forced missed tackles.
When you add in Irving’s ability as a pass catcher you get a fun prospect that could make an impact early as a rookie. The Ducks lined him up in the slot and out wide as a receiver and he made plays in those situations.
He is a smaller back that can struggle to navigate traffic but he also uses his compact frame to slip through small holes in the defense and has good contact balance.
I've been hearing that Bucky Irving's contact balance isn't good, and I just don't know where that came from. Love the way he can string moves together too pic.twitter.com/f36Dae1Iiq
— Daniel Harms🏈 (@InHarmsWay19) February 2, 2024
Braelon Allen, Wisconsin
Braelon Allen has all the traits and feel of a traditional ground-and-pound workhorse running back. He always finds a way to pick up the hard-fought extra yardage with a punishing running style and when you need three yards to extend a drive that is exactly what Allen will get.
Another young player who won’t turn 21 until next January he has so much room to get better. He has a similar punishing style to what Kareem Hunt used to have and could slide into that role for the Browns in 2024 and beyond.
Audric Estime, Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s Audric Estime has a mean streak and he looks to punish defenders when he gets a full head of steam. He is a wrecking ball with great contact balance who often takes multiple players to bring him down. He finished with 892 yards after contact with 64 forced missed tackles this year when he rushed for 1,341 yards and 18 touchdowns.
When you get into the red zone it is hard to keep Estime out of the end zone with his power. He is also an above-average pass protector which will be appealing to NFL teams when evaluating him in the draft process. Estime is a patient runner who is surprisingly nimble at his size with an impressive and effective jump cut.
Audric Estime is one of the best RBs in the country 🏃 (if not the BEST)
• 6.1 YPC
• 18 RTDs
• 1,341 Rushing Yards
• 94.0 Rushing Grade (#3)
One of the best RBs in the NFL Draft❗️ pic.twitter.com/fMnBU04q23
— College Football Report (@CFBRep) February 1, 2024
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