It’s a team rich in tradition when it comes to a certain position. So could Saquon Barkley be the next great running back for the Cleveland Browns?
It’s a football history that dates back to 1946 and its days in the All-America Football Conference. Back then, the Cleveland Browns were busy winning four titles in as many years in the now-defunct league. The team joined the NFL in 1950 and would appear in the championship game six straight years and seven times in its first eight seasons in the league. There were titles in 1950, ’54 and ’55. There would be another NFL championship in 1964.
Of course, the Browns as we know them today were reborn in 1999 as an expansion club. And yes, it’s been a rough tenure for the franchise. But thanks to the agreement with the league in ’99, the current Browns own all of the franchise’s original records.
So could that little bit of history mean the current club may also inherit a little good fortune when it comes to the running back position? The Browns of the past featured big names out of the backfield in the form of Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Bobby Mitchell and Marion Motley. All four are member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brown and Kelly played their entire careers in Cleveland while Motley’s final season was spent with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mitchell would eventually makes his way to the Washington Redskins and is one of the most versatile players in league history.
But there’s been more than just these legends. Back in 1985, Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack each totaled 1,000-plus rushing yards for Marty Schottenheimer’s Browns. Both players enjoyed tremendous careers with the team. In the 1970s and early ‘80s, there was Greg Pruitt and later Mike Pruitt. The latter ranks third in franchise history with 6,540 yards on the ground, followed by the versatile Greg Pruitt (5,496). There was also Ernie Green and Eric Metcalf and a whole lot more.
Back to Brown, who in nine seasons rolled up 12,312 yards on the ground. All told, he amassed an amazing 14,811 and 126 yards from scrimmage in 118 regular-season games with the franchise, is still considered by many as the great player ever at his position.
These days, some consider Penn State’s Saquon Barkley the best player available for the 2018 NFL Draft. Of course, we haven’t seen a running back taken first overall since 1995, when (ironically) former Nittany Lion got the call from the Cincinnati Bengals. Barkley’s playmaking ability is all aspects is impressive. And head coach Hue Jackson as well as Browns’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley would certainly make great use of the talented performer.
Will the Cleveland Browns forego recent draft history and make Barkley the first overall pick on April 26? Will he be available for the team three selections later at No. 4? In any case, this is a football team known over the years for its stars in the backfield. Perhaps that good fortune throughout time can make up for the current club’s failures.