Why the Browns running back depth doesn't matter

Nick Chubb is the Cleveland Browns top offensive weapon with Jerome Ford ready to step up behind him. But who's the next man up behind Ford, and does it even matter?
Cleveland Browns v Jacksonville Jaguars
Cleveland Browns v Jacksonville Jaguars / Mike Carlson/GettyImages

With the reports that the Cleveland Browns are not interested in bringing back Kareem Hunt for depth behind lead running back Nick Chubb, it looks like the running back room is semi-set. Jerome Ford, the second-year back out of Cincinnati, will be the top guy to spell Chubb during games. After Chubb and Ford, the running back depth gets shaky. But does it really matter?

In the past couple seasons, the Browns have had a luxury of depth in the running back room. Chubb is arguably the best pure running back in the NFL, and the Browns had former rushing leader Hunt and undrafted stand-out D'Ernest Johnson behind him. The team drafted Ford in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft to further add to the depth.

In 2022, the Browns had 438 running back rushing attempts. Chubb had 302 of those himself, which was 69% of the team's carries. Hunt had 123 rushes, which was 28% of the team's carries. Simple math shows the Browns gave 97% of the running back carries to their top two backs, with the vast majority going to Chubb.

Johnson had four carries, Ford had eight, and second-year back Demetric Felton had one. All these stats reveal that Ford will, on the high end, most likely take 30% of the carries as Chubb again handles most of the load as the team's top offensive weapon. If an injury should befall Chubb or Ford, the Browns wouldn't give any significant carries to Felton, who is a 5-foot-9 189-pound back who is not a between-the-tackles type of runner anyway.

Instead, the Browns could use their top practice-squad back John Kelly, or easily sign a free agent running back to fill in while the injured player recovers. Remember, this offense plans to feature a higher-volume passing attack than in years past, which means fewer running back carries to go around.

Cleveland has one of the best offensive line units in football. As we've seen with players like Johnson, the Browns can execute their ground game well enough regardless of who is carrying the ball behind Chubb.

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