Cleveland Browns: Top 5 opposing running backs in 2017

jgoehring
Aug 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Carl Nassib (94), defensive linemen Danny Shelton (55) and Nick Hayden (71) during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Carl Nassib (94), defensive linemen Danny Shelton (55) and Nick Hayden (71) during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 27, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs with the ball during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs with the ball during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers

If 2017 goes remotely the way 2016 went, the Browns will be beaten up and worn down by the time Week 13 comes. This holds especially true for their run defense, who will without a doubt be taxed having to go up against some of the league’s best.

One of these running backs who will give the Browns all they can handle is Melvin Gordon of the Los Angeles Chargers. Many fans remember Gordon from his college days at Wisconsin, as his spectacular career as a Badger earned him an opportunity to compete at the next level. And not just compete, but compete with the best.

Related: 5 games to circle as wins in 2017

Gordon had a strong rookie campaign in 2015, rushing for 641 yards. Still, he made incredible strides during his sophomore season, falling just three yards short of 1,000 on the ground and earning a Pro Bowl selection. The 24-year-old started 11 games last season and averaged just shy of four yards per carry.

Entering 2017, Gordon is the clear starter. He is expected to play an increasingly large role in the offense due to both his development as well as the aging Philip Rivers. Los Angeles has always been a pass first offense as long as Rivers has been quarterbacking, but Gordon is helping to change that narrative.

As fans remember, the Chargers were the only team Cleveland was able to come away with a win against in 2016. They finished 5-11, mainly due to extreme inconsistency and troubles down the stretch finishing games.

The Chargers were certainly a pass-first offense last season when they came into Cleveland on Christmas Eve, and may still resemble this style in 2017. But with Gordon coming on stronger than ever, opposing defenses including the Browns in Week 13 must have a strong game plan to combat a relentless rushing attack.

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