The Browns running back unit, for the first half of the season preceding Kareem Hunt’s return, has been a one-man army in star second-year Nick Chubb. Dontrell Hilliard and D’Ernest Johnson have not been utilized much in the early phases of the season, the Browns using Chubb as the team’s work horse and this trend is likely to continue once Hunt is taking hand-offs alongside Chubb.
RUNNING BACKS UNIT GRADE: B+
#24 Nick Chubb – GRADE: A+
One of few Browns players I feel deserving of this grade, Nick Chubb has been a monster through six games despite having to overcome a lackluster offensive line, racking up 600 yards and six touchdowns, as well as catching 20 targets for 130 receiving yards.
Chubb has been building on his successful rookie season, finding gaps and exploding for big runs right when the Browns seem to need it. 4th in total rushing yards and yards per game in the NFL, 5th in the league in rushing touchdowns and an 88-yard touchdown holding the second fastest speed of any player this season, Chubb has shown the league he is not to be underestimated.
#25 Dontrell Hilliard – GRADE: B-
With Chubb taking up a vast majority of the carries, grading Hilliard & Johnson is difficult. Hilliard has seven carries on the year for 31 yards and two touchdowns, including a TD on his only carry in the Browns’ opener.
Hilliard has taken up the role as the ‘next guy up’ for Chubb, not being utilized much in the running back unit, however, Hilliard has been the primary kickoff returner, where he has been good, jumping him up in the grading. He has returned eight kickoffs and a single punt, totaling 264 yards including a 74 yard return to open the game in Week 6.
#30 – D’Ernest Johnson – GRADE: D
It’s difficult to place Johnson in these rankings, as he’s only carried the ball four times in six games and returned two kickoffs.
One carry in Week 1 that went for 13 and three total in Week 2 that got him eight yards, Johnson hasn’t been utilized in Kitchens’ offensive thus far, and, like Hilliard, will likely not see many more carries with Kareem Hunt on the horizon.
#27 – Kareem Hunt – GRADE: ?
Kareem Hunt is still suspended, only now eligible to practice with the Browns and yet to take a snap, to be activated in Week 9 against the Broncos. Hunt, though he has not played for a long while, was dominant the last time he saw the field and looks to continue that in a redemption year with Cleveland.