The Cleveland Browns are still sorting out their depth chart behind all-world running back Nick Chubb and well-traveled veteran Kenyan Drake has been linked to the team as a potential option.
Drake is a free agent after playing last season with the Baltimore Ravens. He was effective during his time on the field in Baltimore’s run-heavy offense, rushing the ball 109 times for 482 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry in 2022 and has averaged 4.5 per tote over his career.
Drake can also play a role in the passing game, with 216 receptions in his career for 1,624 yards and eight touchdowns.
Bleacher Report singled out the Browns as a realistic landing spot prior to training camp for Drake as he searches for his next team.
“He’s not an every-down back, but he has the pass-catching ability and enough juice to be a secondary option,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine. “Right now, the Browns are going to depend on second-year player Jerome Ford to fill that role. With Kareem Hunt off the roster, the Browns might want to at least get an insurance policy and Drake fits the bill.”
Drake, 28, played on just a 1-year deal worth just over $1 million with the Ravens last season. He’s someone the Browns could afford as a backup plan.
Browns Relying on Jerome Ford to Step Into a Larger Role
Running back depth has not been a problem for the Browns in recent years. But Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson are now gone and Cleveland will be relying on second-year running back Jerome Ford to hold down the backup spot to Chubb.
Ford was selected in the fifth round of the 2022 draft out of Cincinnati. He had just eight carries for 12 yards last season, per Pro Football Focus, but also returned kicks and is a capable pass-catcher.
The Browns also have John Kelly and Demetric Felton on the roster and have been pleased with what they’ve seen early on this offseason from their backfield.
“Jerome has done a nice job when he’s had his opportunities,” Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said on May 31 at OTAs. “He’s doing a great job in his protections. John Kelly just makes plays on the scout team when he gets in there, so there’s great competition there. Then Felton added him back in the room with his flexibility to work out in the backfield. I feel like we have a good mix of different types of players that can all play roles for us.”
Kareem Hunt Reunion With Browns Unlikely
There’s still the possibility that the Browns could investigate a reunion with Hunt, who remains a free agent.
“I don’t think we’ve necessarily shut the door on anything,” Browns GM Andrew Berry said on April 21. “We’re not playing games until September, so we’ll remain open-minded to anything that can help the team.”
Hunt spent the last four seasons with the Browns but is coming off a disappointing campaign, finishing with 468 yards on 123 carries. His overall effectiveness was down and there were concerns that the one-time rushing leader had lost a step, per Terry Pluto of cleveland.com. Hunt’s per-carry average of 3.8 was the worst of his career and his opportunities tapered off towards the end of the year.
Chubb has stayed in touch with Hunt but his future in the NFL, or the Browns, hasn’t been part of the discussion.
“I haven’t talked too much about football. Kareem’s like a brother to me, so we’ve got a lot of things to talk about other than football right now,” Chubb said. “But he’s doing great. He’s from Cleveland, so he’s around here, he’s training, getting ready for whatever happens.”
Regardless of how the depth chart shakes out, the Browns are in good hands with Chubb as their leader. He rushed for 1,525 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
More Heavy on Browns News
Loading more stories