The Cleveland Browns signed Ben Tate who will start for the team in their new Zone Blocking Scheme. Tate has been a back up with the Texans and fought through injuries during his early career. For the Browns, who still have a huge amount of cap space, the signing is a low risk proposition. Two years gives the Browns time to see what Tate can do as a starter and if he shows he isn’t starter quality they are done with him. If he explodes in his new role the team will a decision to make for a new contract for a player who is 27. The question today is does the signing of Tate change the Browns plans in the NFL Draft?
The Browns have 10 draft picks in this year’s draft. The team has a number of draft needs including quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive backs and linebacker. Additional defensive linemen and tight end could also be targeted. Where does that place running back now that the depth chart is topped by Tate followed by Chris Ogbonnaya, Edwin Baker, Dion Lewis and Fozzy Whitaker? The Browns may not want to add 10 rookies to their roster and could use some of the picks to trade up from their current positions, but if they don’t using a pick on running back makes a lot of sense if we look to the past.
The Browns famously have struggled with filling the quarterback position but a look back at the running back position is almost as sad. Instead of having players like Derek Anderson, who have a few good games then disappear, Browns running backs have made it almost a year before falling off a cliff, either due to age or skill level. Peyton Hillis, Jamal Lewis, Jerome Harrison are among the names that littered among the Browns history. Given that there is an argument, that this writer subscribes to, of drafting 2 quarterbacks in this draft, so signing Tate and drafting a RB fits this mold as well. If your team hasn’t had a good QB or RB doesn’t getting 2 that could be good make a great deal of sense?
In the draft there are a number of good running backs that won’t be drafted until the mid rounds. So the Browns won’t have to use their high picks instead they could use a 3rd day pick on a player who could start for them in the next few years after Tate’s contract runs out. Carlos Hyde, an Ohio State Buckeye favorite, could be an option starting with the Browns extra 3rd round pick, which could also be the first back taken at that late in the round.
What do you think: Use a draft pick on a RB even after signing Tate? Or mark down the RB position as solidified and move on to another position of need?