Browns Roster Breakdown: Running Backs

May 15, 2019; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens (left) and running back Kareem Hunt (27) and running back Nick Chubb (24) during organized team activities at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The significant part of free agency is behind us, and the NFL draft is over. Now is the time to look ahead to the 2020 NFL season. The Browns have made plenty of changes this offseason, but one room remains the same. The Browns running backs easily were the most successful group on offense last season. So far, Andre Berry and his staff have seen no reason to make any significant changes to that group. So, where do the Browns stand heading into 2020?

Nick Chubb

Browns Running backs

2019 season: Games: 16 | Carries: 298 | Yards: 1494 | Touchdowns: 8 | Receptions: 36 | Yards: 278 | Touchdowns: 0

Chubb has solidified his status as one of the best backs in the NFL in just two seasons. Over those two seasons, he has nearly 2500 yards rushing and 18 scores. He has also not been used properly in either of them. In his rookie season, despite making some huge plays early on, Hue Jackson rarely used the young running back. The John Dorsey traded starting running back Carlos Hyde to the Jaguars, and Chubb never looked back.

In his rookie campaign, Chubb missed hitting the one thousand yards mark by four yards in only nine starts. In year two, as the unquestioned starter, Chubb lost out on the rushing title to fellow superstar back Derrick Henry. Chubb still had nearly 1500 yards on 298 carries and was never consistently used within the offense. Kitchens seemed to get into flows of throwing the ball 15 straight times even when Chubb was running all over the competition. That inconsistency should change with anew scheme and head coach in place.

Kevin Stefanski comes to Cleveland with the Mike Shanahan created zone blocking scheme. This offense is built around running the ball down a team’s throat and then killing them with play-action passing. Think San Francisco 49ers. What more could a stud running back want? Expect the Browns offense to rely heavily on Chubb and the ground attack next season and maybe get Chubb that rushing title he was so close to in 2019.

Kareem Hunt

2019 season: Games: 8 | Carries: 43 | Yards: 179 | Touchdowns: 2 | Receptions: 37 | Yards: 285 | Touchdowns: 1

The Browns signed Hunt in the 2019 offseason after he was cut by the Chiefs midway through 2018. Hunt was suspended for the first eight games of 2019 but showed he still has the talent to help the team over the final eight games. In the new zone scheme and the ability to be with the team from the outset of the season, Hunt will provide the Browns the best third-down/backup running back in the NFL. That is if he can find a way to stay out of trouble.

Dontrell Hilliard

2019 season: Games: 14 | Carries: 13 | Yards: 49 | Touchdowns: 2 | Receptions: 12 | Yards: 92 | Touchdowns: 0

Hilliard started 2019 as the backup to Chubb and the sometimes third-down back. He also returned kickoffs along with others as the Browns tried to find a spark to the return game. Hilliard will have to fight off a couple of undrafted free agents, for now, but the Browns added minimal competition. He seems to be the clear frontrunner to stay on as the third back.

D’Ernest Johnson

2019 season: Games: 16 | Carries: 4 | Yards: 21 | Touchdowns: 0| Receptions: 6 | Yards: 71 | Touchdowns: 0

D’Ernest burst on the scene last preseason with some big plays that earned him a spot on the roster. He will compete with Hilliard for the third back role and likely be given a chance to return for the club. With a new front office in place, he could also just as easily be cut if they deem one of the newcomers to have a higher ceiling.

Andy Janovich (FullBack)

2019 season: Games: 7 | Carries: 1 | Yards: 1 | Touchdowns: 1| Receptions: 5 | Yards: 42 | Touchdowns: 0

One extremely significant part of the new zone scheme is an excellent blocking fullback. If healthy, Janovich is one of the best blocking fullbacks around per Pro Football Focus. In 2018 he had the third most snaps in football at fullback and was rated as the second-best run blocker in the NFL. Janovich is coming off a dislocated elbow that ended his 2019 season, but if he is healthy, he will be a significant part of the offense in 2020.

Camp Bodies

Brian Herrien 

Herrien spent his college years at Georgia backing up all the stars for the last four years. During his career, he amassed 1413 yards rushing and scored 13 touchdowns. He did also return ten kickoffs in his career for an average of 21.3 yards per return. Signed by the Browns as an undrafted free agent Herrien is a camp body that will, at best, end up on the practice squad. It is more likely he is cut before the end of the preseason.

Benny LeMay

LeMay comes out of Charlotte after being the featured back over the last two years of his college career. He totaled 3,232 yards rushing in his career along scoring 22 touchdowns. LeMay added another 640 yards through the air and six more touchdowns. LeMay could stand out when/if camp rolls around and make a run at Hilliard to be the third back. It is more likely he impresses and heads to the practice squad.

Johnny Stanton 

Stanton was signed way back in January, feels like forever ago, by the Browns new regime. He was a quarterback in college that converted to fullback. Stanton spent 2019 on the Viking practice squad for part of last season. Stanton should have a small advantage knowing the terminology of Kevin Stefanski’s offense, but in the end, a healthy Janovich is just too good. It is more likely that the Browns cut Stanton, or he accepts a practice squad invite.

All Browns Roster Breakdowns:

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