In Part 1 of our training camp preview on the Cleveland Browns’ running backs, we looked at the trio of Duke Johnson, Carlos Hyde, and Nick Chubb. In Part 2 of our preview, we look at the other two running backs on the roster.
4. Matthew Dayes - Backup RB
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 205 lbs | Age: 23
Experience: 2 years | College: North Carolina State
A 7th round pick in 2017, Matthew Dayes didn’t see much action in the backfield as a rookie when the team opted to stick almost exclusively with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. He finished the season with 5 carries for 13 yards and 4 catches for 29 yards, and half of that production came in Week 1 before he was completely phased out of the offense.
In Week 7, Dayes replaced Jabrill Peppers as the team’s primary kick returner. In his first four games in that role, he had returns of 71 and 53 yards, finishing the year with 18 returns for 437 yards (24.3 average). Last preseason, Dayes also showed that he could be a good receiving back, hauling in 10 passes for 62 yards.
Part of Dayes’ heavy Week 1 involvement last year had to do with the club having Johnson in the slot for a large portion of that game. It is strange how Hue Jackson — after spending so much of camp with Johnson in the slot and Dayes being involved with the offense — completely cut both of those elements off after that. Dayes has to make a very strong impression in camp this year due to the numbers game — three running backs on the depth chart ahead of him just signed contracts, so it could ultimately come down to whether Cleveland finds it necessary to have four running backs on the roster.
Final Roster Odds: 30%
5. Dontrell Hilliard - Undrafted Free Agent RB
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 202 lbs | Age: 23
Experience: Rookie | College: Tulane
The Browns signed Dontrell Hilliard as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane after this year’s draft. He progressively improved his output on the ground as the years went by in college. In 2017, he had a career-high 210 carries for 1,091 yards (5.2 YPC) and 12 touchdowns. Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus posted a couple of highlights in which he boasted a very quick shuffle to dodge a defender and gain a lot of yardage:
I'm starting to really like Tulane's Dontrell Hilliard. Dude kept flashing skills when I was watching other players, now I'm diving into his tape in his own right. Watch this move: pic.twitter.com/Egh2hIRFK5— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 22, 2018
This isn't the best view of it, but that cut he puts on the LB is sick. LB just falls over and Hillman breaks outside. pic.twitter.com/wV0yWcnvLh— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 22, 2018
Hilliard was involved as a receiver in his first two years of college, but became a non-factor in the receiving game when Willie Fritz took over as the team’s head coach in 2016. We’ll see if Hilliard is able to make some noise on the back end of the roster to steal a spot from someone or make the practice squad.
Final Roster Odds: 10%
That wraps up our running back preview, although we’ll also cover the fullback spot in a bit.
Will the Browns carry four running backs on their roster this year? If so, who will it be?
This poll is closed
Yes — Matthew Dayes
Yes — Dontrell Hilliard
No — only three running backs