With Brian Hoyer coming off an ACL injury and a young quarterback on the roster in Johnny Manziel, it's safe to say the Cleveland Browns will do their best to have a strong running game to take the presure off either of those two. That's one reason why the front office gave running back Ben Tate a two-year deal in the offseason.
While most expect the signing of Tate to signal he will be the lead back, NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly thinks the team's pick of Terrance West in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft could allow West to be the starter in the Cleveland backfield.
"This is my favorite player for the round they got him in," Casserly said on "Path to the Draft." "2,500 yards last year and a natural in the zone-running scheme that Kyle Shanahan runs. Here's my prediction: This guy is going to beat out Ben Tate to be the starting running back this year."
A 5-foot-9, 225-pound back, West led FCS players in rushing last season and was considered by some to be the third-best running back in the draft. West is not a speedy guy, but he's shown good vision, and his tough, between-the-tackles running style should translate well at the next level.
"Another big back with great feet," NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said during the draft. "In the semifinal of FCS playoffs, in the snow, he had about as good a game as a running back can have. West is kind of like Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Hill. He's a big back with excellent feet. He catches the ball pretty well, too."
West does have a favorable running back situation in Cleveland. While Tate figures to be the starter initially, there's not a ton of depth behind him, and West probably enters camp as the primary backup.
The only thing that might complicate things for West taking the job during the season might be the presence of another rookie. The team signed former SEC freshman of the year Isaiah Crowell as an undrafted free agent, and he could be another option for the team to boost the running game. Crowell carried a late-round grade entering the draft, mostly because of off-the-field issues, but he certainly will be another talent on the roster who can run the ball.
Either way, it should be an interesting situation in the Browns running back rooom.
Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.