The new Cleveland Browns regime has a core belief on how to properly build a football team. And it doesn’t include building around a franchise running back. There are priority positions on every roster that will receive the largest budget and there are others that are viewed as filler. This regime views running back as that filler. Having a strong running game can obviously help an offense, but that doesn’t mean spending money and early draft picks are necessary to build a competent running game.
Just look around the league.
*Houston Texans – undrafted free agentArian foster and round 2 pick Ben Tate.
Dion Lewis actually came via those aforementioned Eagles. With the above three, and free agent Felix Jones in tow, Lewis just fell victim to the numbers game; he probably wasn’t going to make that Eagles team. A new regime in Cleveland and no real second fiddle to Trent Richardson on the roster made Lewis a logical fit. He displayed LeSean McCoy-like skills in college, his best asset being his shiftiness and agility, something the other options in Cleveland lacked. No one really knew what to expect as he hadn’t done much in the two years he had been in the league, so expectations were held in check. That all changed quickly in camp.
Before any preseason games were played he was already breaking ankles in practice. ‘Ooh and ahh’ moments, ones that got the attention of the decision makers of this franchise. Quickly he vaulted to backup running back and got the nod with the first unit in the preseason with Richardson being held out for precautionary measures. Once he got the opportunity, he didn’t disappoint.
The jitter bug made plays between the tackles, outside, in the passing game. Always attacking north and south and not dancing east and west like other ‘scat backs’ are prone to do. He had earned himself a role on this team. Not a feature one because of Richardson, but on a team in need of playmakers outside of Richardson, Josh Gordon, and Jordan Cameron there would be opportunities.
Then…he broke his leg. Just like that he went from a potential prominent role player to an IR afterthought. All that’s changed now. Richardson has been moved and the franchise is looking ahead to 2014. They will have a franchise quarterback via the draft, they will probably pair him with at least one more wide receiver. What are they going to do at runningback though?
They can’t fix every hole and this regime clearly doesn’t value the position. A late pick will probably be spent on a running back, as well as bringing in a veteran looking for one last chance. Maybe Dennis Johnson emerges from the practice squad and shows this regime he is worth a shot. A lead back though? Not likely. The jitterbug, Dion Lewis? He’ll be in the cards. If he’s out there in your dynasty league, add and stash him now. Try to get him as a throw-in on a trade. Just get him. Come May, 2014, you’ll be happy you did.