BEREA - There was much debate heading into the 2007 NFL Draft concerning the Browns having a priority to obtain a running back.
Many thought Adrian Peterson would be the answer. Others thought a good backup back for Jamal Lewis could be found in the second- or third-rounds.
When the Browns addressed other needs on Day One, many believed they would certainly add a back on Day Two.
It didn’t happen.
The Browns have said they might have the answer on their roster, either in Jason Wright or Jerome Harrison.
Phil Savage said this off season was very important for Harrison.
Harrison was drafted in the fifth-round last year, but after a brilliant preseason, he never really was a factor. Harrison carried the ball just 20 times for 60 yards with no touchdowns. He caught nine passes for 47 yards. His longest play from scrimmage was a 15-yard run.
Harrison rushed for over 1,900 yards his senior year at Washington State, but was not able to pick up the blitzes necessary for a running back at the NFL level.
He played as a rookie at 195 pounds and now has put on weight without losing speed. He said he’s currently at 210 pounds, all in his lower body.
“I think I needed (the extra weight),” Harrison said. “I have the same speed, so the weight won’t hurt me there.”
Being a premiere running back in high school, Harrison never had to learn to block.
“I didn’t block as well as I should have,” he said. “That was the biggest learning experience from my rookie year.
“I wasn’t asked to do too much blocking in college,” he said. “I knew I had to do it, but didn’t do much of that in college.”
Harrison admitted it was very difficult to learn at the NFL level.
“ I’ve had to learn to block against NFL players and that has made it a lot tougher,” he said. “But I feel I’ve picked it up and can handle that aspect of the game.”
When the Browns drafted Harrison, they envisioned him being a third-down back.
“Any way I can get on the field fits me,” Harrison said. “If the opportunity presents itself, I will try to be the third down back.”
Rob Chudzinski’s new offense employs a third down back and Harrison sees a lot of opportunities in it.
“I think Chud is a genius,” he said. “I think this is going to be an exciting offense.”
If Harrison proves he can keep linebackers off of the Browns quarterbacks, he could be the complement to Lewis the Browns are looking for.