Browns Depth Chart Review: The Running Backs

The Cleveland Browns want to establish themselves as a run first offense, in a pass first league. That puts a heavy emphasis on a few areas. In our Depth Chart Review Series we move on to the Running Backs.

The NFL really never stops. Between Free Agency, the NFL Draft and all the Organized Team Activities before Training Camp, the cycle keeps spinning. The Cleveland Browns made some moves in Free Agency, added 12 draft picks in the NFL Draft and have had their rookie mini-camp already. That gives us a perfect time to take a look at the team's Depth Chart, position by position, and evaluate where each player stands.

A lot of unknown still stands with the Browns roster. At this time last year we weren't sure about Taylor Gabriel, Isaiah Crowell or K'Waun Williams. Each, in their own way, made an impact on the 2014 Season and are now considered a part of the team's future. The Browns have increased the depth of talent on the roster but value competition over everything else. Can an Undrafted Free Agent make the team again this year? Will a veteran be a surprise cut?

Lots of moving parts as we prepare for Training Camp.

We started out our Browns Depth Chart Series by looking at The Quarterbacks. Now we move on to the Running Back position. Some prior to the draft linked the Browns to Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon in the 1st Round, something fans thought was not realistic. Instead the Browns waited till the 3rd Round to add to their Depth Chart.

Lets take a look at where we stand at running back for the Browns who are admittedly a run first team in a pass first league:

Isaiah Crowell

Age

22

Height/Weight

5' 11", 225 pounds

College

Georgia/Alabama State

Experience

1 year

2014 Stats

16 Games: 148 rushes, 607 yards, 4.1 YPC, 8 TDs, 3 Fumbles

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

RB1 - Crowell ended last season at the top of the Depth Chart but his hold on this spot is not tight.

Strengths

When Crowell puts his foot in the ground to cut he is decisive. He accelerates quick and can run over tacklers.

Areas of Concerns

Crowell struggled with consistency, seeing holes and didn't run with the ball secured against his body. He has always been able to dominate with pure talent but in the NFL needs to develop the details he never has had to.

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

RB1 - This one is just a guess. Crowell showed more than his fellow rookies. The two second year players will battle to be the lead back. Neither showed much out of the backfield as a receiver and will be asked to do more this season.

Role Expectations

The Browns are unlikely to run any of their backs into the ground. Crowell could be the lead back who gets enough touches to get into a rhythm. His raw talent could make him a star.

Off-season will be a success if...

Crowell shows better vision, ball security and development as a pass catcher.

Related Links

Browns Film Room: Isaiah Crowell

Rookie Backs Carry Browns Over Steelers

Terrance West

Age

24

Height/Weight

5' 9", 225 pounds

College

Towson

Experience

1 year

2014 Stats

14 Games: 171 rushes, 673 yards, 3.9 YPC, 4 TDs, 1 Fumble

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

RB2 - West goes into Training Camp in a tight battle with Crowell for the #1 spot. West started once the Ben Tate experiment ended last year. He wasn't able to hold on to the job.

Strengths

West showed good vision and was consistent last year. He didn't show breakaway speed but was impressive in transitioning from small school Towson to the NFL level.

Areas of Concerns

Maturity is the key. He was benched for a game because of poor work ethic and sent some rather interesting tweets when the Browns drafted a back in the 3rd Round this year. Can he withstand the pressures of the NFL?

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

RB3 - Currently expect Crowell to win the starting job with West providing relief. How West performs in camp will decide whether they share time or he just gets a few carries.

Role Expectations

West, like Crowell, will be expected to compete for the starting job. Pettine will play the back that gives them the best chance to win.

Off-season will be a success if...

West can win the starting job and show that he can handle the competition.

Related Links

Browns Film Room: Terrance West

Pettine Criticizes West's Fumble

Duke Johnson

Age

21

Height/Weight

5' 9", 207 pounds

College

Miami

Experience

Rookie

2014 Stats

College: 242 rushes, 1652 yards, 6.8 YPC, 10 TDs, 38 catches, 421 yards, 3 TDs

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

RB2 - Right now the rookie sits 3rd on the depth chart, at best. The Browns obviously valued him to take him in the 3rd but West and Crowell showed signs of being quality backs last year.

Strengths

Quickness, speed and pass catching. The Browns hope that Johnson gives them a dynamic force in both the run and pass games.

Areas of Concerns

Size, durability and adjustment to the NFL. Johnson is a smaller back who has had some injury issues and, like all rookies, must adjust to the NFL where he can't just win with his speed.

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

RB2 - The Browns drafted Duke Johnson in the 3rd Round for his explosiveness. Johnson will get a lot of time but is unlikely to start. Johnson will be used in the passing game and could share the backfield with either West or Crowell at times.

Role Expectations

If Johnson gives them the type of 3rd down back that they are lacking, his role his rookie season will be valuable even if limited.

Off-season will be a success if...

Stays healthy and shows adjustments to the NFL and the Browns version of the Zone Blocking Scheme. Not too much to ask.

Related Links

Breaking Down Duke Johnson

Johnson is Miami's All Time Leading Rusher

Shaun Draughn

Age

27

Height/Weight

6', 205 pounds

College

North Carolina

Experience

3 years

2014 Stats

4 Games: 10 rushes, 19 yards, 1.9 YPC, 0 TDs

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

RB4 - The Browns brought in Draughn near the end of last year to provide depth and for his kickoff abilities. Johnson may mean the end of his time in Cleveland but right now the Browns could keep 4 backs.

Strengths

Return skills and experience. Draughn is actually the most experienced back on the team, even though that isn't saying much. He didn't show much for the Browns last year but had 5 kickoff returns including a long of 39 yards

Areas of Concerns

Upside. Draughn has played for 4 teams in 3 years. He is a JAG (Just Another Guy).

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

Cut - Draughn doesn't provide enough that the Browns don't already have to make the team. An injury, especially to Johnson, early in camp might change that.

Role Expectations

Veteran camp body to make sure the young backs don't get too comfortable. Draughn showed enough to get brought back making him a threat to the other guys.

Off-season will be a success if...

For Draughn, making the team. For the Browns, Draughn keeping the fire under the guys above him on the Depth Chart.

Related Links

Q&A With UNC's Draughn

High School Inside Look at Draughn - Subscriber

Glenn Winston

Age

26

Height/Weight

6' 2", 220 pounds

College

Northwood

Experience

1 year

2014 Stats

5 Games: 0 rushes, 0 yards, 0 TDs

Estimated Current Depth Chart Position

RB5 - The Browns brought Winston, whose college history led him to being an old rookie, after getting cut by the 49ers. Winston didn't get any carries but was active on coverage teams. He is fighting for a spot on the team this year.

Strengths

Size and coverage skills. Winston is a big back with some versatility including as a strong member of kick coverage teams.

Areas of Concerns

Upside. Winston is an old 2nd year player who doesn't project as much more than currently showing. He hasn't opportunities on the field and could surprise some with an off-season with the team.

Projected 2015 Depth Chart Position

RB4 - The Browns are a run first team and keeping 4 backs makes a lot of sense. Just a guess here that Winston's ability in coverage outweighs Draughn's returns skills.

Role Expectations

Mostly special teams but could be the Browns goal line back as well.

Off-season will be a success if...

If Winston can provide value both in special teams and on the Browns offense. His size is unique among the Browns backs which could keep him around.

Related Links

2014 Browns' Backs in Review

Winston's HS Highlights - Subscriber

What are your thoughts on the Browns RB Depth Chart this off-season?


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