football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart
Jerome Ford Browns

Can Jerome Ford Replace Kareem Hunt In Browns’ Offense?

  • Justin Melo
  • May 19, 2023
  • Share

Cleveland Browns sophomore running back Jerome Ford is expected to be heavily involved in the offense this season, according to multiple reports. The No. 156 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Ford appears primed to replace Kareem Hunt.

Hunt witnessed his contract expire at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign. The cap-strapped Browns were never expected to re-sign Hunt, who currently remains available in unrestricted free agency. Hunt was allegedly on the market near the trade deadline after previously requesting a contract extension or a trade. Hunt received neither.

Browns general manager Andrew Berry had a goal to get younger and cheaper behind Nick Chubb. Chubb’s cap hit of $5.21 million in 2022 now leaps significantly to $14.850 million in 2023, via Spotrac. Chubb’s cap hit experiences another significant increase to $16.2 million for the 2024 campaign. Ford was drafted as Hunt’s affordable long-term replacement.

Hunt’s departure creates a sizable gap in Cleveland’s offense, though. A dual-threat playmaker, Hunt accounted for 678 total yards of offense in 2022. Over the previous three campaigns, Hunt has accumulated 2,383 total yards and 20 touchdowns.

Hunt has served as Cleveland’s main pass-catching back throughout that time frame. Since initially joining the Browns in 2019, Hunt had been on the receiving end of 166 targets, or 3.38 targets per contest (49 regular-season appearances). That’s a significant target share that requires replacing. 

Ford could inherit that workload. Chubb will continue to serve as Cleveland’s between-the-tackles workhorse, but he’s never been a dominant route-runner and pass-catcher. Chubb saw 37 targets last season as Hunt’s role dwindled down the stretch. Chubb has a career average of 23.8 receptions per season. He’s not exactly a high-volume receiver.

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has always preferred to roster a change-of-pace back that could replace Chubb in obvious passing situations. It’s helped keep Chubb fresh and available. Ford currently looks destined for that role.

Stefanski is an offensive-minded leader that’s expected to field a higher-scoring offense this season. Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper should showcase more chemistry now that their acclimation period is over. A player like Ford could make the most of advantageous matchups against linebackers as a receiver coming out of the backfield.

The Browns appear content with Ford as their No. 2 running back. Despite opting against re-signing Hunt, Berry didn’t utilize a single selection in the 2023 NFL Draft on a ball carrier. Scat-back Demetric Felton Jr. remains on the roster, but Felton Jr. is more of a gadget-type weapon. Playing as Chubb’s backup is Ford’s role for the taking.

Ford played a mere 14 offensive snaps for the Browns last season, but he showcased some abilities as a pass-catcher throughout his final collegiate campaign as a Cincinnati Bearcat. In 2021, Ford recorded a career-high 21 receptions for 220 receiving yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 1,319 yards and 19 touchdowns.

A talented transfer who went from Alabama to Cincinnati, Ford showed smooth hands as a Bearcat. Ford hauled in nearly every target the Bearcats threw his way. Volume wasn’t always present, but the Browns appear ready to let Ford prove himself on passing downs. Ford is also an outstanding pass protector that will quickly earn Watson’s trust in gotta-have-it situations.

Ford projects as an effective weapon when offering Chubb a breather on passing downs. It’s precisely why Berry identified Ford as an eventual contributor in last year’s draft. Expect Ford to be a productive player for the postseason-hopeful Browns in 2023.

Written By

Justin Melo