Donovan Peoples-Jones: Browns best Round 6 draft pick in 15 years

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Lawrence Vickers was the best Browns fullback since Kevin Mack

Lawrence Vickers is probably the best fullback the Browns have had since Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner were blocking for each other in the 1980s and 1990s. Because the fullback position is being transitioned out of the modern offense, it might be a while before we see another fullback like Vickers, if ever.

The only others that come to mind are Touchdown Tommy Vardell, who was kind of a hybrid running back, and Andy Janovich got good reviews for his performance in Cleveland in 2020 and 2021.

Vickers was drafted in Round 6 in 2006 and played five years for the Browns, which included 76 games and 43 starts. Vickers was a blocking back who rarely carried the ball, unlike, say, Kevin Mack, Bo Scott or Ernie Green from back in the day. Because of the increasing use of multiple wide receiver formations, the fullback was not on the field as often as in the old days.

They didn't keep track of game snacks back then, but he probably played about half the time. He didn't put up stats, but he was a devastating blocker who helped protect several quarterbacks in his career (not that they were necessarily worth protecting) and helped to energize the running game. He probably added about half a yard to the yards per carry of the primary running back.

Vickers didn't play much as a rookie, and the 2006 team was just anemic. Reuben Droughns had been a 1,200-yard running back the previous season, but struggled in 2006, with only 758 yards on the ground and a rushing average of only 3.45 yards/carry.

The 2007 team was different, with a kid named Joe Thomas taking care of left tackle and Vickers getting plenty of time at fullback. Jamal Lewis was the bell cow with 1,304 yards on the ground and 4.38 yards per carry, with Jason Wright (277 yards and 4.62 yards/carry) and Jerome Harrison (142 yards and 6.17 yards/carry) adding yards as well.

Vickers also rode shotgun for Jerome Harrison on December 20, 2009 when Harrison gained 286 yards on the ground, breaking Jim Brown's single-game rushing yardage record of 237 yards.

He was also the running mate for Peyton Hillis when Hillis was All-Universe in 2010, gaining 1,177 yards on the ground with a 4.36 yards per carry average. Hillis didn't exactly dazzle anyone with outside blazing speed, it was more like runs up the gut of the defense, with Vickers blasting holes up the middle.

After that incredible season, the Browns decided to replace Vickers with a fourth round draft pick, in Owen Marecic, the winner of the Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player.

Marecic not only played fullback, but was also a starting linebacker at Stanford, and had the reputation for being an incredibly well-conditioned athlete. He just didn't play fullback as well as Lawrence Vickers, playing only two seasons for the Browns.

Hillis is known as a one-hit-wonder. In 2011, he gained only 587 yards with 3.65 yards per carry. Injuries and feuds with management are often cited as the reasons for his drop-off in performance. However, a guy who made his living between the tackles might have really missed Vickers, one of the underrated Browns of the decade. How much did it hurt Hillis to replace Vickers with a rookie?