On June 7, the team signed running back Duke Johnson to a three year contract extension. Johnson has been a consistent player for the Browns over the course of his career. In 2017, he accumulated 348 rushing yards. But he did most of his damage in the passing game, where he led the Browns with 74 receptions for 693 yards.
This extension gives the Browns a very talented trio of running backs, with Johnson and adding Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb in the offseason.
Here, we will look at what all three backs bring to the table in 2018.
As mentioned above, Duke Johnson has done most of his damage on offense in the passing game. He has 1,741 career receiving yards, opposed to 1,085 career rushing yards. Johnson had the most targets in his career last season, with 93. In 2015, his rookie season, he had 104 rushing attempts, the most in his three seasons. Last season, he only had 82.
While he can be a dynamic runner, he is more useful and dangerous in the passing game. That should hold true this fall because of the additions of Hyde and Chubb.
Expect head coach Hue Jackson and new offensive coordinator Todd Haley to find new, creative ways to get Johnson more involved with the offense.
Hyde was with the San Francisco 49ers for his first four seasons in the NFL. Last season, Hyde scored a career high in touchdowns, with eight, and ran for the second most yards in his career, with 940. He takes pretty good care of the ball, too, while rushing. In 2017, he played in all 16 games and only fumbled the ball twice, losing only one. He also stepped up his play in passing game as well. He caught a career high 59 passes for 350 yards.
Hyde’s likely role with the Browns will be in short yardage and even red zone situations. With the powerful runner that he is, he could excel in that role in 2018. Last season, Hyde scored all eight of his touchdowns from inside the red zone and getting 37 red zone carries.
The Browns passed on taking Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the first overall pick in the draft in April. Because of this, they were able to address other positions of need. Having taken a quarterback, cornerback, and offensive lineman before the 35th overall selection, Cleveland could go out and get a running back who can step in and make a difference right away.
Nick Chubb, out of Georgia, was the pick. The 2104 SEC Freshman of the Year ran for nearly 4,600 yards in his four years at UGA and ran for 1,175 with 13 scores his senior year. He helped Georgia to a No. 1 ranking last season and was a major part in the Bulldogs run to the College Football Playoff and national championship game.
Chubb has a good chance of coming in and being the starting RB for the Browns come Week 1. He is likely a first and second down kind of back who shows lots of strength and power while running, with a nice blend of speed to go along with it.
Cleveland already has the best linebackers in all of the NFL, and they very well could have the best running back corps in the league, too.