Since the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Kareem Hunt in 2017, it was clear that he had what it took to be an elite player in the NFL. After a stellar rookie season in Kansas City in 2017, where Hunt accumulated an NFL best 1,327 rushing yards on his way to the rookie of the Year award, he found himself in a bit of a sticky situation after a video surfaced of him assaulting a woman in a Cleveland hotel via TMZ. Unfortunately, Hunt was not honest with the Chiefs brass during this time in regards to the incident. The deception would ultimately lead to his release from the Kansas City Chiefs, and a lengthy period away from the NFL. In this time Hunt devoted himself to self-improvement as a man through therapy and anger management. These steps ultimately led to the Browns allowing him a second chance under then Cleveland General Manager John Dorsey who drafted Hunt in 2017 in Kansas City. In 2019 the Browns gave Hunt an opportunity to compete for snaps with starting RB Nick Chubb. This came as a shock to many throughout the NFL since Hunt was set to serve a 10 game league-mandated suspension in 2019 for the assault of a female that occurred at a hotel in that very same city Cleveland which is Hunt’s hometown. Following the suspension, Hunt logged eight games, three starts, 43 carries, 179 yards, and just two touchdowns. Following these disappointing numbers in 2019 in Cleveland Hunt is documented in a traffic stop video in the city of Cleveland, where he has been pulled over for some sort of traffic violation. In the video Hunt states his remorse for his behavior back in 2018 in Kansas City, and explains to the officer how he is struggling because ” I should be in the Super Bowl man, but I messed up.” So it is visible that he regrets the way things went down in Kansas City, but he should be lucky the Cleveland Browns have given him a shot to improve on his 2019 numbers and compete with Nick Chubb for meaningful snaps this upcoming season. The question now becomes, is former Kansas City Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt ready to take a big leap in year two with the Cleveland Browns?
The Cleveland Browns have a very talented roster from top to bottom, and this is both good and bad for Hunt. It’s good because he has elite level offensive line talent now in Cleveland thanks to the off-season additions of free agent RT Jack Conklin and 1st-round pick LT Jedrick Wills. The bad thing about the roster strength is Nick Chubb, who was one of the best RBs in the league last year. On the bright side for Hunt, the team has gone through a regime change led by new General Manager Andrew Berry and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, the former offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. John Dorsey had a past relationship with Hunt and is no longer around to validate the optics of employing a guy with a violent reputation. I do believe though that the ownership group is on board with giving this elite talent a second chance, which should filter down the chain of command in Cleveland. The big reason I think improvement is possible is the offense scheme change that is being brought in by Stefanski. His scheme is predicted on a heavy running game focus, which opens up and allows for heavy play-action pass concepts. Now the elite talent in Cleveland will get a chance to run a system that caters perfectly to Kareem Hunt and their entire offensive roster’s strengths. With the heavy run focus, I expect there to be plenty of carries to go around for both Chubb and Hunt in 2020. I project Hunt could have around 135 carries for 650 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in 2020.
On the other hand, there is still a possibility that Hunt’s production will remain similar to his 2019 stats over a 16 game stretch. I say this since he is technically still the backup RB, and if I’m wrong about the scheme being focused on running game dominance to set up play action. Even if you double his games played from last year and his production over that stretch, he would only be at 86 carries, 358 yards, and just four touchdowns. That wouldn’t be a bad year for most backup RBs, but it’s still underwhelming for a player of Hunt’s talent. As long as the opportunity is there for him to make plays, I expect him to do so. Don’t be surprised though if the worst-case scenario comes to be true, and his production is limited by lack of carries if Chubb is too good to take meaningful carries away from. Ultimately Hunt’s success is largely based on the health and performance of Nick Chubb, as well as the offensive scheme change boosting the available amount of touches for the RBs.
The pieces are there for the Browns to succeed this upcoming year, and their best chance to do that is to have a balanced running attack of both Chubb and Hunt. Having two elite level runners in a system that is reliant on the run game to create passing opportunities is a great luxury to have, and I hope the Browns understand and utilize this in the upcoming season. Kareem Hunt has an opportunity in front of him to get back in the fold and make a big impact for a team that should be chasing a playoff spot in the AFC North. They have a lot of competition in that division with both Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but I fully expect that the positives we have discussed will allow Hunt to take a big leap forward in production in year two with the Cleveland Browns under new General Manager Andrew Berry and new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski.