NFL Exec Would Take Nick Chubb over Derrick Henry: 'Best Pure Runner in Football'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 13, 2021

Football: AFC Playoffs: Cleveland Browns Nick Chubb (24) in action, rushing vs Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
Pittsburgh, PA 1/10/2021
CREDIT: Fred Vuich (Photo by Fred Vuich/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X163496)
Set Number: X163496

An NFL executive said they'd take the Cleveland Browns' Nick Chubb as their franchise running back over two-time defending rushing champion Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans.

"Best pure runner in football," the NFC exec told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler about Chubb in a story published Tuesday. "I'd take him over Henry because he's a little more explosive."

Chubb has been terrific since the Browns selected him in the second round of the 2018 draft.

The 25-year-old University of Georgia product has rushed for 3,557 yards on 680 carries (5.2 YPC) with 28 rushing touchdowns in 44 games. He's added 72 catches for 577 yards and two scores as part of the passing game.

While his 1,067 rushing yards in 2020 were just over half of Henry's league-leading total (2,027), his per-attempt average (5.6) was a shade better than his Titans counterpart's (5.4).

As a whole, the voters surveyed by Fowler, which included over 50 executives, coaches, players and scouts, ranked Henry as the No. 1 running back, with Chubb coming in at No. 4.

"If you're comfortable staying patient with two- and three-yard gains in the first half, knowing those same runs will turn into eight-yard runs in the second half, then he's by far the best player at this position," an NFC offensive coach told ESPN about Henry.

Chubb's overall numbers will likely lag behind Henry's for as long as he's sharing the Browns backfield with Kareem Hunt, who was listed as an honorable mention just outside the top 10 in the positional ranking. In 2019, when Hunt was limited to eight games, Chubb (1,494) finished second to Henry (1,540) in the rushing race.

The key question for Cleveland will be whether to give the standout rusher, who can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 campaign, the lucrative extension he's earned or let him test the open market with the hope Hunt and others could sufficiently fill the void.

"I don't like uncertainty, and I know here in Cleveland what I have with the players and coaches and just the city of Cleveland," Chubb told reporters in June. "I don't know how things would be anywhere else. Cleveland is where I want to be and that's my main focus, just being here in Cleveland."

The Browns, who reached the divisional round of the playoffs last season and are building toward consistent Super Bowl hopes for the first time since the late 1980s, may wait until after the season before deciding how to handle the contract situation, though.

In the meantime, Chubb is a strong bet to remain among the NFL's top rushers in 2021.