Nick Chubb is great, but is he the best since the Browns returned to the NFL?
Nick Chubb has rushed at an elite level since entering the NFL three years ago, but is he the best Cleveland Browns running back since the franchise’s return in 1999?
The answer is yes and it’s really not that close.
In his first three seasons in Orange and Brown, Chubb has rushed for 3,557 yards, 28 touchdowns, while averaging 5.2 yards-per-carry and 80 yards-per-game. Depending on who you ask, Chubb is a top 3-5 running back in the NFL today. He already ranks seventh in most rushing yards in Browns history.
Now let’s take a look at his three seasons compared to those that toted the rock in front of the Dawg Pound before him, dating back to the return of the franchise in 1999.
Chubb is one of only three Browns running back to rush for over 1,000 yards. The other three are Jamal Lewis, Reuben Droughns, and Peyton Hillis. Of those four players, only Chubb and Lewis have had multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons. His 28 touchdowns are more than the other three 1,000-yard rushers combined in the seasons in which they rushed for 1,000 yards.
To go along with the yardage, Chubb is one of only three Browns running backs to have double-digit touchdown seasons. Hillis did it in his monster 2010 season, where he rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns. Two years later, Trent Richardson rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last season Chubb had 12 rushing scores despite missing four games.
Lewis was solid for the Browns in his three seasons in The Land, which ended up being his final three seasons of his career. He finished his Browns run by rushing for 2,806 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Richardson was drafted third overall out of Alabama in 2012, but only had a stint of 18 games with the Browns as he was traded to the Colts in his second season. The risk of trading up and taking a running back at No. 3 overall didn’t initially pan out for Cleveland, but they did end up getting a first-round pick in return for him.
In the four seasons prior to Chubb’s arrival, Isaiah Crowell was the main back for the Browns. He had a serviceable career in Cleveland, rushing for 3,803 yards and 27 touchdowns while catching 117 passes for 922 yards and a score.
Duke Johnson shared the backfield with Crowell from 2015-17 but was mainly used as a pass-catching back. He rushed for 1,286 yards and five touchdowns and had 235 receptions for 2,170 yards and eight touchdowns in his four years with Cleveland. He was disgruntled about playing time once Chubb was drafted and was ultimately traded to the Texans.
Hillis was the cover athlete of Madden 12 after his breakout season, but unfortunately for him, it was his lone 1,000-yard season.
Much like the quarterback position, which has been well-documented by now, Cleveland has not had much luck when it comes to the running back position. Now, they have Chubb who has proven he is worth a hefty contract, but time will tell if the Browns ultimately lock him up long-term.
Chubb’s success has been a major factor in the Browns turnaround over the past three seasons. There was a handful of running backs to come through Cleveland since 1999 that did a solid job, but none better than Chubb after only three seasons. He is the Batman to Cleveland’s Gotham and also has an explosive play exactly when the Browns need it.
Is Nick Chubb the best Browns running back since 1999? Without question and he’s only 25-years old with three professional seasons under his belt.