It’s time for Part 2 of our running back preview for the Cleveland Browns, featuring D’Ernest Johnson, Brian Herrien, and Benny LeMay. If you missed part one, check it out here.
4. D’Ernest Johnson - Backup RB
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 208 lbs | Age: 24
Experience: 2 years | College: South Florida
D’Ernest Johnson was a member of the AAF last season, and joined the Cleveland Browns in May 2019 after the league folded. He made the final roster as the third running back thanks to Kareem Hunt being suspended and Duke Johnson being shipped away. He led the Browns with 20 carries for 86 yards in the preseason to go along with 7 catches for 76 yards and 1 touchdown.
During the regular season, Johnson saw limited action, rushing 4 times for 21 yards (5.3 YPC) and catching 6 passes for 71 yards. Almost all of that work came in the first two games of the season, but he was active for the whole year as a special teams contributor. Johnson had a reputation in college of being a complete player with a power running style. He averaged 5.8 YPC in the AAF, but didn’t receive enough opportunities with the Browns last year.
Final Roster Odds: 20%
5. Brian Herrien - Undrafted Rookie RB
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 208 lbs | Age: 22
Experience: Rookie | College: Georgia
Brian Herrien is an undrafted free agent out of Georgia, and was actually one of the backups to Nick Chubb in college. Herrien remained a backup after Chubb’s departure, but saw some increased playing time behind D’Andre Swift in 2019. He was the 24th-ranked running back by Dane Brugler, who had this to say about Herrien:
Herrien has quick feet to dart through creases with the urgency and determination that helped him create after contact. While his competitive nature is a strength, he tends to be overly sporadic and unpredictable with his rush path. Overall, Herrien was overshadowed most of his career due to a crowded running back depth chart in Athens, but he was productive when called upon and has enough NFL-level skills as a runner, receiver and blocker to fight for a backup role.
Herrien is also viewed as a contact runner with good blocking skills, and not much of a home-run threat. It’ll be interesting to see if him being held back in college allows him to show some intriguing skills when the spotlight is on him — or will he again be just a footnote behind two more good backs in Chubb and Kareem Hunt? Herrien doesn’t lack confidence, and said that Chubb and Sony Michel were always complimentary of him when he was their backup:
“I do feel I’m the same caliber,” Herrien said at this year’s NFL Combine. “Nick and Sony always told me the same thing. My freshman year Nick and Sony always told me they were afraid I was going to take their spot. I’m looking at them like ‘C’mon, now.” But they always encouraged me to keep going and stuff.”
One thing is for sure: this was a heck of a catch:
W H A T A C A T C H!!!!— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) November 2, 2019
Brian Herrien @brianherrienn pic.twitter.com/p7RGmEcFK7
Final Roster Odds: 20%
6. Benny LeMay - Undrafted Rookie RB
Height: 5-8 | Weight: 220 lbs | Age: 22
Experience: Rookie | College: Charlotte
Right before Herrien on Dane Brugler’s list of running backs, coming in at No. 23 overall in this year’s draft class, was Benny LeMay. Like Herrien, the Browns signed LeMay as an undrafted free agent following the draft. Unlike Herrien, LeMay was a three-year starter at Charlotte, with this assessment from Brugler:
A three-year starter at Charlotte, LeMay was the feature back in the head coach Will Healy’s spread offense. He became the only player in school history with 1,000-plus rushing yards in two different seasons, finishing his career as the program’s all-time leading rusher at the FBS level. LeMay is a tough-minded ball carrier with the coordinated feet and contact balance that will challenge tacklers. More of a one-note runner, there isn’t anything special about his athletic profile, but he catches the ball well and coaches will appreciate his detailed approach. Overall, LeMay isn’t a burst player and must improve his reliability in pass pro, but he has an excellent feel for run angles and how to pick his way through the defense, projecting as a late-round option.
My final RB I’m going to preview, Benny LeMay from Charlotte. Had an impressive game against Clemson despite the tough circumstances of playing very tough competition. When he puts his foot in the ground and goes North/South, he’s impressive. Gotta cut down the dancing at the LOS pic.twitter.com/kh8jDD9kgd— Justin Penik (@JustinPenik) April 6, 2020
A power runner between the tackles, LeMay shined at the East-West Shrine game, earning the game’s MVP honors. The Browns were intrigued enough to give him a $30,000 bonus to sign with them as an undrafted free agent.
Final Roster Odds: 20%
If the Browns could only keep one of these players as their third running back, who would you want?
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