How Terrance West Fits with the Cleveland Browns

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How Terrance West Fits with the Cleveland Browns
Josh Gibney/Associated Press

Entering the 2014 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns clearly needed to upgrade at running back. Ben Tate was the only player on the roster at all capable of carrying the ball with consistent success, and even he is unproven as a starter.

Enter Terrance West.

The Towson product obviously doesn't come from a big school, but he is a perfect schematic fit in Kyle Shanahan's offense. Shanahan brings with him to Cleveland a zone-blocking scheme along the offensive line, which is ideal for West.

A zone-blocking scheme requires a running back with patience and vision. He doesn't necessarily have to be explosive or fast, but he needs to be able to find holes. West can do that. 

The 5'9", 225-pounder is powerful and patient. Those are probably his top two qualities as a runner, as a matter of fact. It's not entirely unfair to make a comparison to Alfred Morris, who started in Washington under Shanahan for two years. 

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Unlike many power backs, though, West can catch the ball. He isn't going to be grabbing 60 receptions a year, but he is far from useless as a receiver.

This will again come in handy as he works his way into Cleveland's offense. When Johnny Manziel first hits the field, the Browns probably won't be doing too many vertical routes. They will be rolling Manziel out and giving him simple passes. Many of the easiest passes are to running backs in the flats. 

This is an area where West can add value. 

Obviously, West does have flaws. He isn't particularly fast. He doesn't have great burst. He isn't going to juke anyone out. The Browns are betting on his strengths and their own scheme making these flaws insignificant—or at least less so than they may otherwise be. 

No one will mistake West for a dynamic, playmaking runner. Cleveland doesn't expect him to be that. It expects him to be a player who can pound the rock and move the chains. 

Should the Browns have taken a running back this early?

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Looking at 2014 alone, it is clear the Browns will be running the ball. Regardless of whether Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel starts, Cleveland has an unestablished quarterback. And if Josh Gordon is suspended for the entire season, the team doesn't have much in the way of receivers either.

Cleveland's offensive line, especially after the addition of Joel Bitonio, is a strong unit. Tate and West give the Browns talent at running back. Everything about Cleveland's offense leads to the team running the ball at an extremely high rate.

If the Browns want to do this effectively, they need at least two runners, and both Tate and West are ideal fits in Kyle Shanahan's scheme. 

It wouldn't be difficult to make a good argument that Cleveland would have been better off addressing its passing attack by adding a wide receiver. Odds are, the team will do so soon. But the Browns have a plan, and that involves running the ball a lot.

Terrance West fits that plan.

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