The Cleveland Browns knew that they had to draft the key to their offense when they had a shot at having the top pick in every round of the 2018 NFL Draft. They managed to accomplish that, as well—with the selection of Nick Chubb, 35th overall, in the second round, as their third pick in that class.
Of course, the focus will be on Baker Mayfield as the quarterback, who obviously plays an extremely important role in the team’s success or failure. But the Browns are a team whose success is driven at this point by their running game, and Chubb has established himself as a premiere back for three years now.
So far through his career, he has rushed for 3557 yards on 680 rushing attempts since being drafted, with 28 rushing touchdowns. He has averaged 5.2 yards per carry during that time, including an outstanding 5.6 yards per carry last season, during which he rushed for over 1000 yards with 12 scores despite missing four games.
Since entering the league, Chubb ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards, behind only Derrick Henry, who just recorded a 2000-yard season, with 4626 yards and Ezekiel Elliott, who has rushed for 3770 yards. Each of them has started at least six more games than Chubb has in that span, averaging about 200 more carries between them. Chubb has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott, though Henry has the clear advantage there with a staggering 45.
“I think you all know the affinity that we have for him both as a player and as a person”, Browns general manager Andrew Berry said regarding Chubb during a recent press conference, when he was asked about the running back and the possibility of his getting a new deal as he heads into the final year of his contract.
“We do have a number of players who are extension-eligible, which Nick is one. And that’s something that we’ll sort through as we go through the offseason”, he went on. “But certainly we like Nick — the player and the person. And all those big decisions are things that we have to figure out in the overall big picture as we navigate the next several months”.
As a young general manager, Berry has seemingly already mastered the art of saying a lot of words without communicating a lot of information. But it’s hard to fathom a timeline in which the Browns do not get Chubb signed long-term. The running back position is fungible, but there are some backs who transcend the label, and he is one of them.
And given how fragile and fleeting has been Cleveland’s success lately, and how important Chubb has been to their improvement, it would be foolish not to give him every opportunity to prove to be a positive factor. After all, he’s only 25 years old. It’s not like he’s approaching his 30s.