I had so much fun analyzing the RB group this year. I mean we were sitting there at the end of the season staring at a breakout star in Nick Chubb who is only going to get better. With Duke still being underutilized but still a dynamic player and Dontrell Hilliard and Devante Mayes stinking up the end of the line up.
This is one of the best RB classes I have seen in 5 years in terms of continuous quality depth all the way to Round 7. Especially for a team like the Browns who have a high quality, near-elite starter and some decent depth, we are likely to find some players to our liking in any round. There are so many guys with special skill sets it’s like Christmas morning! It was set up perfectly.
So I sat there and asked myself what do we need for 2019 to improve this group? I felt that Duke and Dontrell were both completely incapable of stepping in for Chubb in any real way for any real length of time. I mean Chubb has special qualities in terms of physicality, athleticism and field vision. The drop off is going to be huge if he gets hurt. With the Duke situation getting more weird by the week, I felt he was a very likely trade chip for Buddy Boy this off season. Hilliard is totally expendable in the sense that you can easily upgrade him. He has physical limitations and is not a creator.
So my exciting plan was to draft a nice player in the Round 2-4 area (to replace Duke) and plan to find another (to replace Hilliard) as an UDFA. That player in the higher rounds needed to have Chubb-like skills. And there happened to be a guy just like that, also from Georgia! No problem, right?
And then Buddy Boy went and did this:
Yup, he got us the 3rd best Running Back in the NFL…Mr. Kareem Hunt, to play NEXT to the 4th best Running Back in the NFL…Mr. Nick Chubb!!! Are you freakin kidding me? Dorsey proves once again he is one of the elite GM’s in the league and outmaneuvered 4 or 5 of the long-term power teams that were starting to posture towards signing Kareem Hunt but were hesitant to do it when the heat was at its peak. Not Buddy Boy…oh hell no. Dude is NOT afraid and he got us a whale!
But now what? There are some downsides to this signing. Hunt owes the NFL an 8 game suspension. Ok, could be worse I say. But he’s also not under our control after 2020 (he will be a restricted Free Agent in 2020). So there’s no way we can pay both Chubb and Hunt long term. There likely isn’t enough touches for both of them in this Air Raid-style offense Monken is bringing in. So are we likely to see Hunt exit in 2021? Very likely. Or maybe he signs a tag for another year if we are playing deep in the playoffs and have a real shot at winning the AFC outright.
So for as good as this signing is for the team, it might be short lived. And it screws completely with my RB plan for this year! LOL…yes I will shut up now. But as a result, I am only going to give you more detailed evals on 4 or 5 of the guys below. The rest you can peruse the summary slides I posted in here for each guy and it gives you some sense of what they are about. Let’s see who we should be targeting now that Hunt is in the fold…
GOOD: Good to very good speed, patient letting the play develop. Strong lower body bubble means he has near elite contact balance and body control. Elusive with small but quick jump cuts and movements to avoid. Has some impressive explosiveness. Very productive in college.
BAD: Lower level of competition might hurt his value and could impact his development. Did not dominate FCS competition. Some scouts are not overly impressed because Anderson doesn’t have any truly elite traits. Will need time to get used to NFL level defenses, tackling and blocking.
BOTTOM LINE: I see Anderson as a perfect complementary RB for the Browns. He has the kind of shiftiness and explosion when he hits the second level that our opponents would not be ready for if getting heavy doses of Chubb during a game. Has been durable and has decent hands to catch out of the backfield. Absolutely will be available in the 4th Round or could drop and be available as UDFA and present great value, assuming he can make the final roster. Probably a guy who could work out of the Slot too.
GOOD: Another great speed/power combo RB in this draft. Has excellent play speed, burst and explosion. Likely the best receiving back in this draft with soft, sure hands and good route running technique, especially in short yardage and Red Zone situations.
Excellent contact balance and lower body power. Makes the kind of quick short jump cuts and hops to make himself slippery at the second level. Has the speed to outrun. Has caught TD passes and will put his head down to run through a goal line pile for the score. I am betting he’d be deadly out of the Slot too.
BAD: Not much to complain about other than in college many of his touches came as a receiver rather than a RB. But you can’t complain about his production. His size will limit him to mostly 3rd down duties as he couldn’t take the pounding of a 3 down back.
BOTTOM LINE: I am giddy when I watch his tape. His elusiveness and burst in traffic is excellent and when he runs jets or short sideline routes he gets up to speed so quickly he runs past blockers like they aren’t part of the play. What intrigues me the most is it doesn’t look like he is even running hard. I believe there is another gear he has that he seldom uses but he will need that gear in the NFL.
Want the perfect replacement for Duke Johnson’s catching ability and elusive running? Here he is folks. Can play right away and with his excellent field vision might be your return guy immediately. Available from the 4th Round on and would be HIGH value starting right there. Anything later than the 4th would be a steal.
GOOD: Just an absolute bully with the ball in his hands. Great size, powerful lower body bubble and upper body is hard as concrete. Somehow this enormous man is able to jump cut, elude and make himself slippery at all levels of the field. Pretty impressive speed and burst for his bulk. Rocked up build that players simply bounce off of! Decent hands but didn’t get many opportunities in college in the pass game. His contact balance and ability to slide off tackles is near elite.
BAD: Doesn’t alway have a plan, reacts to what he sees. Has a bad two year injury history, missing a lot of games in recent seasons. Slow processing at times gets him tackled. Not the kind of burst a smaller back would have to get through the scrum into the second level and blow the doors off. Good but not great long speed.
BOTTOM LINE: Cox is just a blast to watch on film. He comes out of traffic and tackle attempts with his legs pumping and breaks into the open field and he’s gone. Amazing ability to avoid going down. Elite contact balance and leg drive. Lateral athleticism is not a weakness, it’s a huge benefit considering his size but not elite. Before his injury years he was a TD machine, scoring 12 on only 700 yards, so they used him a lot in the Red Zone.
Dude can play RB, FB and H back in any offensive scheme. He’s a bulldozer who can convert 3rd downs and get you short yardage TD’s. Instant rookie 3rd down contributor and definite Special Teams role. Any round starting in the 5th is excellent value. You get Cox as an UDFA (absolutely possible) and you won the lottery!
GOOD: Absolutely electric player. Elite feet, burst and contact balance. Incredibly productive from all levels of the field against legit competition. Has a jab and jump step that is uber elite. Doesn’t always have a long-range plan through traffic but this cat uses his elite athleticism to its maximum.
Really impressive muscular build for his size, not thin or frail in any way. Excellent lower body power and bubble, clearly something he works on. Low center of gravity contributes to his excellent contact balance. Playmaker.
BAD: Clearly his size could be an issue at the next level. You’re just not going run him out at the X receiver position against press or drive him straight up between the tackles 20 times in a row. Has great burst but only ok long speed, so he often is tackled by larger players who run him down.
BOTTOM LINE: Multiple player. Contributor and playmaker in all the best ways. Elite elusiveness. Excellent burst and speed. Soft hands catcher. He is your gadget player, sweep & screen, return man extraordinaire. This kid just needs the ball and he will produce.
Look at his yardage and TD numbers his third year. Incredible production against very respectable Pac-12 competition. Don’t overthink this one, get him on your roster Buddy Boy! He is absolutely going to be available in the 5th and later. 100% draft steal at any point after the 4th because he is going to contribute and impact the game in 6 different ways as a rookie. You can’t afford to let him get to UDFA status…someone like New England will grab him fast. Your coaches better get him on the field with the ball in his hands!