In the current age in the NFL, the running back position has changed. Every team has their starter. Some teams have a change of pace 'back and some have a goalline/short yardage 'back. Even some teams have all three.
The Cleveland Browns will have all three and then some. Their offensive backfield is shaping up to be a top 10 in the league. It will take awhile but by midseason, the Browns will strike fear into many opposing defensive coordinators.
Jerome Harrison - A big part of the Browns four-game winning streak to close last year's season, Harrison will not be starting for the Browns, at least not for long.
He will find himself where he was when Jamal Lewis was still a legitmate NFL running back and fellow running back Jason Wright was still on the roster.
Projected Role: Change of Pace RB/Third Down RB (Possible PR)
Peyton Hillis - Recently acquired in the trade that sent Brady Quinn to the Denver Broncos, Hillis will be well utlilized in the Browns backfield. He is a strong runner and can manage short-yard situations.
Some say he can catch, some say he can't. I can't say for sure. All I know is Heckertt didn't just select Hillis as a throw-in for Quinn.
Projected Role: Goalline RB/Short Yardage RB/Third Down FB
James Davis - Davis had a great preseason last year, mostly due to a huge run in a game. Either way, he was a solid late round pick up last season and if he wasn't hurt, he may have stepped up in a huge way.
With a surplus of running backs to find themselves roles, Davis will find himself, not lost, but in the back.
Projected Role: Backup RB (If the Browns elect to have four RBs on their roster)
Lawrence Vickers - Probably one of the most underrated players on the Browns and in the NFL, Vickers blocking is one of the main reasons Harrison played so well at the end of the season.
He can block, he can catch, and if you handed off the ball to him, the ex-running back could probably get you a few yards.
Projected Role: Starting FB
Montario Hardesty - The surprise pick of this year's draft is underrated due to previous injuries. He isn't great at anything. He is solid overall. Nothing too special. All there is to know is that he is a downhill runner who follows his blocks and has solid speed.
A good talent that with all of the supporting cast mentioned earlier could be a great running back and the leader of a great backfield.
Projected Role: Starting RB
With a backfield capable of such versatlilty and keeping one another fresh all the time, the Browns could easliy have one of the most successfull and decorated backfields in the NFL.
The Browns four-game winning streak happened because they ran the ball, and then they ran the ball, and then they ran the ball again.
Throw in a wildcat that involves Josh Cribbs and Seneca Wallace, and an improved offensive line and the Browns offense could be great in the upcoming season.