The Cleveland Browns selected Nick Chubb in the second-round (35th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft. In his rookie year, the running back showed plenty of star potential.
Chubb appeared in all 16 games, picking up 192 carries. In that time, he racked up 996 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns.
With great numbers like that, people are expecting big things from Chubb in the future. However, there are still improvements he can make. Those are highlighted even more by the other talent on the roster.
With that in mind, how can Nick Chubb take the next step in 2019 with the Cleveland Browns?
It all starts with the Browns roster. They added Odell Beckham Jr. to the receiver corps, pairing him with Jarvis Landry for a deadly duo. Then they brought in Kareem Hunt to 100% solidify the running back position.
Hunt is of course out for the first few weeks of the season due to a suspension, but once he returns you’d expect he’d have a solid role. He’s a multi-talented running back who can effect the offense in a number of ways.
Although he’s been asking for a trade Duke Johnson is still on the team, and one of the better receiving backs in the NFL.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Browns have a lot of talent when it comes to catching the ball.
That goes for the running backs as well. Johnson had 47 receptions last season after having 74 the year before. Hunt only had 26 (in 11 games) but had seven receiving touchdowns. He also had 53 receptions the year before.
With all this in mind, there’s a pretty clear improvement that Chubb needs to make – his skills in the receiving game.
Chubb had 20 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns last season. That’s barely an average of one catch per game and is under 10 yards per contest. This might not seem all that bad because he’s a running back, and really good at running the ball.
However, it’s going to limit his touches. The Browns have plenty of talented receivers and two running backs on the roster that are miles ahead of Chubb when it comes to being a part of the passing game.
That means Chubb will not see the field as often, as he’ll likely be out for obvious receiving downs. When he is in, it doesn’t seem like the ball will be coming his way that much.
This could lead to fewer carries (as he won’t be in as often) and obviously fewer opportunities to catch the ball. So while his numbers could be elite in the running game, he won’t be at his full potential due to this one semi-weakness.
If Chubb can improve his route running and catching abilities, he brings a new wrinkle to his game. Even if it just gives him 10 more receptions, that’s enough to keep him in more packages. It’s also enough to show things are trending up for seasons past 2019.
Being better in the receiving game will open up his running game as well. Suddenly, being a multi-dimensional back will make teams have to defend him differently. This could lead to a couple more “big” plays from the young running back.
Nick Chubb showed last season that he’s on his way to being one of the best running backs in the NFL. If he can figure it out as a receiver, he’ll speed up that process.
He’ll also be given more snaps – leading to better stats – leading to his standing among NFL running backs hard to deny.