Recent Browns breakout star prediction hits and misses the mark

Two interesting names were floated as Cleveland Browns breakout players
Cleveland Browns, Martin Emerson Jr.
Cleveland Browns, Martin Emerson Jr. / Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

It's prediction season in the NFL as we await the start of training camps around the league. One popular prediction is to try and find breakout stars around the league and Matthew Schmidt of Browns Digest picked two Cleveland Browns players to watch as breakout candidates.

He third-year players Martin Emerson, Jr. and Jerome Ford. Some in Cleveland might argue that Emerson is already a star, and that's something Schmidt admits to. However, he states that Emerson isn't getting love nationally, which he believes will change in 2024.

As for Ford, he believes the absence of Nick Chubb — which Schmidt says could go into the second half of the season — will lead to Ford's breakout. He admited he was "pedestrian" and "inconsistent" at times but still sees him getting more touches than D'Onta Foreman.

"Cleveland will definitely need Ford to produce in 2024 with Chubb sidelined indefinitely. He will be sharing some touches with D'Onta Foreman, but Ford will probably get the bulk of the carries." — Schmidt, Browns Digest

Let's dive into these predictions and explain why he hit the mark on Emerson but missed it slightly on Ford.

Why Martin Emerson is a breakout candidate for the Browns

As Schmidt pointed out, the presence of Denzel Ward — the star of the secondary — and Greg Newsome — the "look at me guy" in the secondary — has overshadowed Emerson outside of Cleveland. Still, his emergence made it seem possible that Newsome, a former first-round pick, could be moved.

General manager Andrew Berry swore he had no idea where the idea Newsome could be moved came from, but there's little doubt he was listening to offers during the NFL Combine. And he will likely listen again in 2025 before just paying Newsome more than $13 million.

Emerson had four interceptions last year and now has 29 pass deflections as well. If the Browns keep winning, they'll continue to make noise nationally. After awhile, it will be impossible to ignore the defensive back who has had the most growth over the past two years.

Why Jerome Ford isn't a breakout candidate for the Browns

Schmidt said himself that Ford wasn't all that trustworthy in 2023. The numbers prove that to be true, and they also prove that eight big plays saved him from a terrible season.

Ford had 813 yards on 204 carries for an average of 4.0 yards per attempt. However, eight breakaway runs accounted for 266 yards — including two 69-yard rushes. That was a shocking 32.7 percent of his production on eight runs — less than four percent of his attempts.

With those taken out, Ford had 547 yards on the remaining 196 attempts. That was an average of 2.6 yards per rush, which is why Kevin Stefanski abandoned the run so often.

Other stats that were shared earlier in the offseason by 'The Dawgs' Podcast included Ford getting tackled for a loss on 34 attempts (second worst in the NFL), getting stuffed at the line on 56 attempts (third-worst), and losing 91 yards on tackles for a loss (the worst in the league).

Perhaps Ford turns it around but looking at those numbers makes it hard to see him getting the bulk of the carries over Foreman. If we're being honest, unless he improves drastically, he might be closer to being a surprise cut candidate than a breakout candidate

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