The Cleveland Browns face the World Champion Kansas City Chiefs on Friday and these three opposing players are worth keeping an eye on, one of whom might be wearing Brown and Orange at some point this season.
K.C. has had to wave goodbye to several star players this offseason, including left tackle Orlando Brown, Jr. (who is now a Cincinnati Bengal, by the way), JuJu Smith-Schuster, OT Andrew Wylie, S Juan Thornhill (now proudly wearing the Brown and Orange), DT Khalen Saunders, DE Frank Clark, and WR Mecole Hardman.
The Chiefs are replacing those seven significant players with just three new free agents. RT Jawaan Taylor DE Charles Omenihu and LT Donovan Smith are the only major free agents. Overall, they have definitely shed some talent. To fill their voids, they are simply promoting second-string players, figuring they are going to mature into starting-caliber players.
Nevertheless, they still have a deep roster. In fact, it would not be surprising if one of the running backs that they cut winds up on the Browns roster, because the Browns are still looking for replacements for Kareem Hunt and D'Ernest Johnson as backups for Nick Chubb.
3 Chiefs to watch for against the Cleveland Browns
3. Running back Deneric Prince
The Chiefs are sponsoring a battle for the fourth running back roster spot between UDFA Deneric Prince from Tulsa and veteran La'Mical Perine. Prince had trouble staying healthy at Tulsa and never played more than 10 games in a single season, but put up impressive Combine numbers.
Perine is the cousin of former Bengals running back Samaje Perine (now a Bronco). La'Mical Perine had a so-so career for the punchless Jets in 2020-21 and spent last season on the Dolphins' practice squad. The buzz is that Prince has more upside, but Perine has performed better in preseason.
Currently, the Browns have Jerome Ford, who will make the team as RB2 when he is healthy, but there is room for two more running backs on the roster. Jordan Wilkins, a recent pickup from the Colts, had only 87 yards last year.
Demetric Felton, who had four yards from scrimmage last season, has looked good this preseason, with 134 total yards from scrimmage and 5.14 yards per carry. John Kelly, Jr. has 101 yards from scrimmage this season, but is averaging only 2.83 yards/carry. Likewise, Hassan Hall is averaging only 2.0 yards per carry. Thus, a waiver claim on a Chiefs running back is not out of the question.
Perine was a fourth-round draft choice of the New York Jets in 2020. The Jets went 6-27 under Adam Gase and Robert Saleh in 2020-21. They had no offense and no offensive line to speak of. Under those conditions, Perine posted 263 yards in his Jet career, with 3.7 yards per carry and zero fumbles. If he could gain 3.7 yards per carry for those Jets teams, he should be able to gain over 4.0 yards per carry for the 2023 Browns.
Thus far, in two preseason games for the Chiefs, Perine has had 12 carries for 65 yards, or 5.42 yards per carry. He has also caught one pass in three targets for six yards. Prince has 34 yards in 10 rushes for 3.40 yards per carry.
Prince had injury issues at Tulsa, but averaged 5.49 yards per carry, and 9.5 yards per reception. He is 6-foot-0, 216 pounds, and scorched the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds.
Either Deneric Prince or La'Mical Perine would be worthy of consideration for a waiver claim should the Chiefs elect to put one or the other on waivers at the end of summer.