Shorter passes, including ones aimed at running backs, are also prevalent in Browns OC John DeFilippo’s West Coast system. As a result, rookie Duke Johnson, the University of Miami’s all-time leading rusher whom the Browns drafted in the third round, will be counted on to fill a prominent role from the beginning.
Johnson poses the greatest receiving threat among this group, so he’ll have a lot on his plate in his first professional season. The coaching staff plans to move him into different spots, including receiver, in hopes of creating mismatches.
The Browns, though, are not relying on Johnson to become their starter right away. They would like him to eventually develop into the role, but they realize it might not happen immediately.
So at this point, Isaiah Crowell, who entered the league undrafted last year, is the favorite to start. A third-round draft pick in 2014, Terrance West will receive chances to earn carries as well, but his job security is more vulnerable after being benched twice last season because the coaches weren’t pleased with his preparation.
Crowell out-touched Terrance West 90 to 68 over the final seven games, but West had the last laugh, turning 20 touches into 106 yards and a TD against the Ravens in Week 17. (A seemingly healthy Crowell touched the ball five times for 22 yards.) In PPR formats, Johnson is the only running back in Cleveland that interests us. At this point, there is just too much uncertainty with Crowell/West in terms of who will get the carries in any given week.