All the attention of the Cleveland Browns 2014 draft will be shouldered by a 5’11” tall quarterback named Johnny Manziel, and rightly so. He was the biggest storyline entering the draft and is now pegged as the franchise guy for a team that has not had one since 1999. He is not the most intriguing pick, however. That title belongs to third-round selection Terrance West.
West, a running back out of Towson University, is a physical specimen to say the least. He is 5’9”, 225 pounds and looks like he is chiseled out of stone. You can scoff at his numbers because of the competition they played but 2,295 yards rushing and 38 rushing touchdowns are hard to ignore. He was held under 100 yards just four times all season and never failed to get in the end zone.
There was certainly interest around the league in West. Browns general manger Ray Farmer felt that and decided to pull the trigger and trade up for him before someone else could.
“I believe I got to Terrance West just before somebody got to Terrance West. I don't know who specifically, but there was definitely the feeling that, the term we like to use in our draft room is 'murderer's row.' When murderer's row comes up, you're going to lose the guys that you want,” said Farmer in his post-draft press conference. “There were several instances throughout the draft where we referred to pods of teams that could take players that we were interested in. As we saw those pods of teams coming up, we felt it was advantageous for us to move in front of those teams.”
It was his power and burst that attracted the Browns to West. As you can see in the highlight package below, he is very difficult to bring down and can change directions and return to full speed almost instantaneously.
West is one of those players who jump off the film the second you turn on the game tape. It is amazing to think that he was a walk-on at Towson.
He grew up in the Baltimore area and was a Ravens fan as a kid. There was quite a bit of speculation that Ozzie Newsome, the general manager of the Ravens, liked West and was going to try and snag him. Newsome confirmed that Sunday after the draft concluded.
"We liked Terrence," Newsome told Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. "Now, we just have to face him twice a year."
West did not knock people’s socks off at the combine but he certainly held his own. He had the 14th-fastest 40-yard dash time among all running backs and also logged a 10-foot broad jump.
Some NFL people are so high on West that they feel he could be an immediate starter. NFL Network analyst and former NFL general manager Charlie Casserly said he thinks that West will beat out Ben Tate as the starting running back for the Browns this season.
“This is my favorite player for the round they got him in," Casserly said. "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."
Casserly was not the only national media member who was high on the selection. He was a favorite of draft analysts and media members from just about every outlet you could imagine.
Terrance West is an intriguing pick for the Browns. Has drawn Alfred Morris comparisons & fits the Shanahan mold. Tate/West are a nice pair.— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) May 10, 2014
#Browns got my boy Terrance West - one of my favorite players of the draft— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) May 10, 2014
Whether he beats out Ben Tate for the starting job remains to be seen, but the Browns finally have some depth at running back. Last season they traded away Trent Richardson for a first-round pick, which ended up being Johnny Manziel, and never found a legitimate replacement.
Years before that they entered seasons with walking injury reports Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty. They will now have a legitimate competition for the reps. This is extremely important with the reports that wide receiver Josh Gordon could miss all of 2014 after failing yet another drug test.
In recent years there have been some very good running backs taken in the second and third rounds. LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy, Frank Gore and DeMarco Murray were all top-10 rushers last season and all selected in that range.
It is now up to West to prove he is up to the billing of those names and can carry the workload of a premier back in the NFL.