Browns giving Demetric Felton extensive reps in the slot this summer

Browns, Demetric Felton. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Demetric Felton. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Though the Browns depth chart lists Demetric Felton as a fourth-string running back, he’s more likely to compete for the No. 1 slot receiving position

The Cleveland Browns preliminary depth chart lists Demetric Felton as a running back, but in all the practices open to the public, we have seen him working out with the wide receivers. Last season, Felton didn’t get a lot of reps but when he was in the game, the Browns fed him the ball.

He had 21 targets and made 18 catches for 181 yards. They handed off to him seven times for 24 yards, so in other words he was targeted as a receiver three times as frequently as he was used as a runner. In short, he was spectacularly successful at catching the ball, albeit in a small data sample.

Felton, a sixth-round draft pick out of UCLA, doesn’t fit the mold of the typical Andrew Berry draft pick. Berry and the Browns typically go for very young prospects who are still growing, with the idea of reaching their potential in year three and year four.

For example, last year’s first three draft picks — Greg Newsome II, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and Anthony Schwartz — were all 21 years old as of the start of the season. Felton was an elderly gentleman of 23 on opening day last year, after four full years of varsity football at wide receiver and running back. Covid messed with his senior year, of course, but he averaged over 100 rushing yards per game as a running back.

Felton didn’t post blazing Pro Day times at 4.58 seconds, which explains why he slid to the sixth round. At 5-foot-9 and 189 pounds, he might not fit the mold for a running back, especially with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson, and Jerome Ford on the same team.

But let’s think about Felton as a slot receiver. In Cleveland’s August 9 open practice, DPD had boots on the ground, including your humble correspondent as well as Jacob Roach, who reports that Felton took only about four or five runs out of the spread formation.

The rest was spent as a receiver. This is confirmed by Tyler Johnson, who covers the Browns on The Faithful Dogs Podcast, and who has been to most of the open practices. According to Johnson, Felton is working out almost exclusively with the wide receivers this spring.

The prototype slot receiver is Wes Welker, the former Patriot, who was the same height, 5-foot-9, and almost the same weight, 185 pounds. He was a few ticks slower than Felton at 4.65 seconds.

So Felton has the moves and quickness, and the size and track speed are more than adequate as well. Now let’s take a look again at 18 catches in 21 targets. That’s an 85.7 catch percentage, the best on the team last season unless you count Ja’Marcus Bradley’s 100 percent on four catches in four targets. Felton also had 32 punt returns for 227 yards and nine kickoff returns for 172 yards.

That’s 604 all-purpose yards (APY). That was a good year for a rookie.

There is some chance that 21-year-old rookie David Bell might take the job with a strong showing in the preseason, but they would be usually better off with the 21-year-old on the bench to begin with. Here’s what the wide receiver depth chart looks like, if it is six-deep. There are two established players, two second-year men, and two rookies:

  1. Amari Cooper should start

  2. Donovan Peoples-Jones should also start

  3. Demetric Felton will be in the slot when they play “12 personnel” (one RB, two TE, three WR)

  4. Anthony Schwartz is not getting cut by the Browns, so don’t even think of it.

  5. David Bell is an option in the slot, but when is it a good idea to rush 21-year-old receivers into the starting lineup? Wait a few weeks.

  6. Michael Woods II was drafted in the 6th round. He should make the team.

Ja’Marcus Bradley and rookie Travell Harris head a group of longshots. Mike Hartley, Jr. snagged a nice touchdown reception in Tuesday’s practice as well. Javon Wims, Derrick Dillon and Daylen Baldwin also hope to make an impression.

All the signs point to Felton being used mainly in the slot this season. He has no future as a running back, so it should not shock anyone that the Browns want him to play receiver. At age 24, this is the time to find out what his true potential is.

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