An NFL team with a possible rookie starter at quarterback that perhaps lost its best wide receiver for a large chunk, if not all, of the season sounds like a team that will depend on running the football. So, it should come as no shock Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is stressing just that.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Haslam "keeps stressing 'we're going to run the ball and pass when necessary."
One of the beneficiaries of that philosophy should be third-round pick Terrance West. The running back out of Towson was a finalist for FCS Offensive Player of the Year in 2013 after running for more than 2,500 yards and 41 touchdowns as a junior. He is 5-foot-9, 225 pounds with 4.50-40 wheels. The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto wrote last week that the Browns "absolutely love" West, who is offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's "kind of back." West is physically similar to the Redskins' Alfred Morris, who Shanahan helped turn into a premier running back. Yet, West has better receiving skills.
This might be seen as reason to be concerned about Ben Tate , but the Browns are probably going to run so much this season -- especially if Josh Gordon is suspended for the entire season -- it may not matter a whole lot if he shares a bunch of carries with West; both players are still going to put up numbers. And you know Johnny Manziel is going to run plenty. That is, if he beats out Brian Hoyer for the starting job, which I expect to happen unless Manziel suffers a preseason injury or Hoyer plays so well that the Browns must put him on the field. But that is a high bar to meet, and the pressure from the local media and fans will most likely lead Browns coaches to start Manziel sooner than later.
I expect Tate to be the team's Week 1 starter at running back, and I would obviously draft him first among the two RBs, but it's not as if the Browns are financially committed to him; Tate is playing on a two-year deal through 2015 with only $2.5 million guaranteed. If West outperforms him early on or if Tate suffers an injury, as he has every year of his career, West could turn into a major value selection late in drafts.