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Who is Pierre Strong, Jr.? What does he offer the Browns in the running back room?

Two days before the cutdown day, the Browns make a trade

NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

As the preseason was coming to a close for the Cleveland Browns, there was a lot of speculation about what this year’s 53-man roster would look like.

There are several positions that are seen as suspect. For one, the running back group.

Other than Pro Bowler Nick Chubb, there is no longer that insurance policy on the bench like D’Ernest Johnson or Kareem Hunt. The club had decided to make last year’s rookie Jerome Ford their primary backup going forward.

In competition for the RB3 spot this year in training camp have been undrafted rookie Hassan Hall, veterans John Kelly and Demetric Felton, and free agents Nate McCrary and Jordan Wilkins. McCrary was released in early August, Wilkins has a fumbling issue, Hall has not impressed, Felton has versatility being a receiver as well as a return man, and Kelly has impressed in spurts.

The question still remained: Who was going to be the RB3?

That was answered in a trade with the New England Patriots. The Pats had a major offensive line depth problem and needed developmental yet dependable help. They also had a running back logjam. The Browns sent over OT prospect Tyronne Wheatley, Jr. in a trade straight up for RB Pierre Strong, Jr.

So, the next obvious question is, who is Pierre Strong, Jr.?


Strong (5’-11”, 205 pounds) grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and went to John McClellan High School where he played basketball and football. In high school, he ran a 4.49 in the 40, benched 250 pounds, and deadlifted 500 pounds. His nickname is “The Lion King.” During Strong’s senior year, the football squad played in the 5A state title game.

Despite an impressive senior season, he did not have any major college offers. So, he attended South Dakota State, home of the Jackrabbits. Competing in D-1, SDS has claimed 68 league championships in 10 different sports since 2009.

Having been raised in the South, it was a huge adjustment for Strong to now be surrounded by bitter cold and snow.

South Dakota State v Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Strong became the Missouri Valley Football Conference Freshman of the Year after rushing for 1,116 yards with 11 touchdowns. During his sophomore campaign, he gained 1,018 yards on 143 carries with eight touchdowns and was elected First Team All-MVFC. His junior year was cut short by COVID as he had 707 yards with three scores.

His senior season he busted out. The final numbers were 1,686 rushing yards on 240 carries, 18 touchdowns, and 22 receptions for 150 yards. He also had four passes from his running back position which were all touchdown throws. At season’s end, he was named First Team All-MVFC and was selected as First Team FCS All-American.

Prior to the 2022 NFL draft, Strong ran a 4.37 in the 40 and proved once he gets past the second level, he has another gear.

Small high school, and going to a small FCS college hurt his draft status. He did receive an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl where he shined. He was invited to the Combine and had the fastest 40 times of any running back.

Strong is a Christian. His Twitter handle is @pierrestrongjr.

On to the NFL

The scouting report on Strong was that he had great straight-line speed and was more of a slasher-type runner. His hands are just average in the passing game, but he is a prolific passer from his running back spot. His yards-after-contact are not great but has a good instinctive feel in traffic.

Strong was drafted in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft by New England.

NFL: Preseason-Houston Texans at New England Patriots Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

As a rookie, he played in 15 games with zero starts. He had just 10 rushes for 100 yards and a single touchdown. He was targeted seven times in the passing game and caught each pass for 42 yards, three of which converted into first downs. Strong had just 51 offensive snaps.

Oh yeah, he also had five kickoff returns for 115 yards with a 23.0 yards per return average. His special teams snaps were 143 which was 31.29% of ST opportunities with six ST tackles.

Strong is a back coming to Cleveland that runs with discipline and has home-run moments. He has good vision and is an ideal complementary back who is extremely durable. He is not the strongest nor the biggest and is not a huge asset to the passing game except for his passing attributes.

However, he shows the ability to catch check-downs and be a threat in space.