Cleveland Browns: 15 best running backs of all-time

Full back Mike Pruitt #43 of the Cleveland Browns. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
Full back Mike Pruitt #43 of the Cleveland Browns. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images) /
14 of 15

Embed from Getty Images

RB. 1964-1973. Leroy Kelly. 2. player. 53.

It’s rare a team can move from one superstar to another at any position. The San Francisco 49ers pulled it off when they transitioned from Joe Montana to Steve Young under center. Same for the Green Bay Packers who went from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. There have been other cases of this, but it’s often the quarterback position that gets the glory when talking about going from one start to another.

More from Browns All-Time Lists

However, in 1966, the Browns were able to replace Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown with Leroy Kelly — who also ended up having a Hall of Fame career.

Kelly was drafted out of Morgan State in the eighth round of the 1964 NFL Draft and backed Brown up for two seasons. With Brown being the workhorse he was, Kelly had just 43 rushing attempts in his first two seasons.

Once he took over, he had less than 200 attempts just twice in his career as he became another bell cow for the Browns. He also had more than 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns in each of his first three seasons as the lead back.

His best season came in 1968 when Kelly rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns. When he was done, he amassed 7,274 yards and 74 touchdowns during a career where he was incredibly durable considering the number of touches he was given. Both numbers were good for second all-time in Browns’ history behind only one person, which we can all guess who that would be.