CLEVELAND — Thanks to the signing of Robert Griffin III and the 2016 NFL Draft less than a month away, the Cleveland Browns have a bevy of options available to them now.
What has been one of the most-asked questions within Dawg Pound Nation has been, now that with RGIII on board, does Cleveland still take a quarterback at No.2? Depending on what camp one is in, there is some sentiment that the Browns may pass on Carson Wentz and Jared Goff and address other areas such as offensive line, defensive line, defensive back and wide receiver.
But running back, really?
One of the most popular scenarios that has been trending online recently is the notion of Cleveland pulling the trigger on former Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott. Don’t get me wrong, as I am a family alum and HUGE fan of the Scarlet and Gray, but to select a player at a such and undervalued position at running back in today’s era of passing would be fool-hardy and irresponsible.
Then again, this is the Cleveland Browns.
With an analytical approach and mindset led by Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta, one doesn’t know what to expect in terms of what direction Cleveland is leaning. Perhaps they could put up a smokescreen about them being tempted at the idea of drafting such a dynamic back who is excellent in blitz protection, out of the backfield as a receiver, and capable of running inside and outside.
Elliott is no Marshall Faulk or Adrian Peterson-type of back, he ain’t even Todd Gurley, but if you recall, the Browns were one of the teams looking at the former Georgia–and now current Los Angeles Rams–running last year.
While the Browns do have Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell on the roster, having such a complete back in the same backfield as RGIII, would cause opposing defenses some serious headaches.
At a school that has produced its own share of running backs, Elliot rushed for close to 4,000 yards (3,961) and 40-plus touchdowns (43) in his three-year career down in Columbus. In his final year, the 6’1 225-pound native of St. Louis rushed for 1,821 yards on 289 carries and 23 touchdowns.
Again, I’m not trying to make a case for the Browns taking Elliott at no.2–thanks a lot Trent Richardson!–but gifted and special running backs such as Elliott come around roughly every five to 10 years.
Considering their new out-of-the-box commitment to analytics, and clearly being unfazed by public perception, the browns are the ultimate wildcard in the draft. Selecting Elliott with the second overall pick in an era of passing would all be solidify that.