The Cleveland Browns are heading into the month of April with plenty of questions left unanswered about the current state of the franchise. Wide receivers and defensive prospects have been on the minds of every fan since the end of the 2010 season but there has been one specific position that has been neglected during the Browns' pre-draft coverage.
The running backs on Cleveland's current roster will need some help heading into the 2011 season. Peyton Hillis had one of the best seasons for any Browns runner in the last ten years, but suffered a significant amount of wear and tear to go along with his impressive numbers. Cleveland went through most of the 2010 season without a quality backup for Hillis and fans seemed to hold their breath every time number 40 took a leap over an opposing defender or ended up in the bottom of a pile.
One option for Cleveland to consider at the running back position during the 2011 NFL Draft is Shane Vereen. Vereen was a three-year starter for the California Golden Bears and scored 29 touchdowns over the course of his collegiate career.
The Browns have already met and had a private workout with Vereen this spring as the team traveled to the Golden Bears facility in California in March. The best thing about Vereen is that he is used to playing in a backup or split-role system as he shared carries with Jahvid Best (Detroit Lions) over his first two seasons of his college career. Vereen then took over the starting job this previous season and rushed for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Cleveland will be looking for a change-of-pace back in order to compliment Hillis and give the backfield some stability. The Browns hoped Montario Hardesty and Jerome Harrison would offer that same type of combination in 2010. However, neither player ended the season on the active roster.
Vereen is projected to be a fourth to fifth round pick during the draft which may be perfect for Cleveland to finally take another chance on a running back. The Browns will likely address more pressing team needs early, but can change to a "best player on the board" style entering the third day.