The Cleveland Browns went out and signed the best free agent runner available this offseason in RB Ben Tate to fix their anemic run game, but the team also signed Alabama State RB Isaiah Crowell after the NFL Draft concluded, who could play a pivotal role this season in Cleveland.
Crowell, a 5-foot-11, 224 pound runner, has all of the ability in the world, but seemed to take that for advantage leading to a dismissal from the Georgia Bulldogs in 2012 due to weapons charges. Crowell then transferred to Alabama State where he starred as injuries plagued his final collegiate seasons.
Crowell has the talent to be the best back of the 2014 class, but he will have to stay focused on football to do so. Crowell has a knack for using his vision to find running lanes, even when they are not there yet. He also runs with great power and short-yardage burst. He uses his strength to overpower defenders in short-yardage situations and can be a valuable short-yardage back if he can latch on with a team.
Crowell tends to allow the smallest of contact bring him down, which is completely mind-boggling, as he is such a strong and powerful runner. His pass pro skills need work and he has a limited skill set as a receiver out of the back field. Crowell’s off-the-field concerns are an issue and he is quite immature. He will need a great coaching staff and great locker room to keep him focused on football and to keep his head on straight.
Crowell will likely be competing with Dion Lewis and Edwin Baker, two other young and talented backs, for a roster spot this season. Crowell’s talent and upside alone should give him the edge over both players, but he will need to show the coaching staff that he has what it takes to be a valuable player at the next level.
This could be a steal for Cleveland if it pays off in the end.