The Browns arguably have the best running back tandem in the NFL. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are about as scary as it gets for opposing defenses to have to game plan for. It’s pretty clear the Browns value having two RBs that can coexist and produce dominant stat lines. So what does that leave for the third running back on the roster?
Currently, Cleveland has D’Ernest Johnson slotted into the third running back spot. Johnson is no slouch. The Browns signed him fresh out of the XFL, where he was arguably one of the best players in that League. Johnson has been in Cleveland since 2019. He has had limited opportunities here with the Browns, due to the previously mentioned tandem.
D’Ernest had a career-best 100 rushes last season. He ended the year with 534 rushing yards for an average of 5.3 yards per carry. This number has been his career average, even after the increase in playing time last year.
Johnson had a breakout game against the Denver Broncos last season. He was inserted into a starting role after the Browns had some issues with Covid-19. Johnson rushed for 146 yards in the win over Denver. He carried the ball 22 times and came away with a rushing TD. He also had 22 receiving yards on two catches. This game helped to put D’Ernest on the map as one of the top backup running backs across the league.
The Browns drafted Jerome Ford out of the University of Cincinnati this past April. Many people have speculated there will be some trade chatter involving both Johnson and Kareem Hunt. While Kareem is on an expiring contract, I don’t foresee the Browns trading him just yet. Their dynamic duo is too valuable. Therefore, I think it’s likely that the Browns may get offers for D’Ernest.
I believe if the Browns can walk away with a Third or Fourth-round pick for Johnson, it will be a win-win. This will give Johnson a chance to prove that he is more than just a backup. Depending on the situation, he could have an excellent chance to become a starter in this league. He is still only 26 years old and has a bright future ahead of him. If the right offer comes along, I think Cleveland would be foolish not to accept.
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