The Cleveland Browns entered the 2010 NFL Draft with a lot of holes to fill and utilized one of their 2nd round picks to select running back Montario Hardesty out of Tennessee. To me this selection means that the Browns brass felt that running back was one of their needs. I am curious to hear the thoughts of the Browns fans on whether or not they feel Jerome Harrison is a feature back. I am going to give my thoughts and opinions on this topic.
I am not going to beat around the bush; I feel that by the end of the season Montario Hardesty will be getting the bulk of the carries in Cleveland. Going into the draft I had Hardesty very high on my draft board and feel he will have a major impact for the Browns. We identified Hardesty as one of our draft sleepers. Hardesty is a tough runner that always fights for extra yards. He excels at running inside the tackles and utilizes his good vision to find the open holes. While at Tennessee he played in a pro style offense where he was asked to run routes out of the backfield and most importantly pass block. Hardesty’s pass protection skills will help get him on the field early in his NFL career. While I have a strong feeling that Hardesty will get the majority of the carries, he does have competition.
At the end of last season Jerome Harrison emerged has a major playmaker. His season totals were 862 yards and 5 touchdowns but 561 yards and all 5 touchdowns came in the final three games of the season. In Harrison’s previous three seasons he yardage total was only 448 with only 1 touchdown. So while Harrison showed promise he still has a lot to prove. Further complicating matters is the fact that Harrison is skipping Organized Team Activities because of a contract dispute.
Second year running back James Davis will also be fighting for carries. Davis had an impressive preseason last year but his season was cut short due to an injury suffered in practice. Davis was a 6th round draft pick and fell to that spot for several reasons. Davis has good size and strength but lacks top end speed. He has been labeled as a one speed running back that isn’t very elusive. While Davis shows skills he has to overcome last season’s injury and also prove himself.
So after taking a closer look at the Brown’s running back situation I feel very confident that Hardesty will emerge as their top back. I feel he complements Jerome Harrison very well and both will get a healthy share of carries. If Hardesty can stay healthy he and Harrison could stabilize the Cleveland Brown’s running game.