Cleveland Browns: 5 Greatest Running Backs Ever

No, it's not Jim Brown and four random guys

With his 165-yard and three-touchdown performance against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4, Nick Chubb looks like he can fulfill the potential he showed in his rookie season. Can he be one of the best in Browns history? We’ll have to wait and see because in addition to Jim Brown, three other Hall of Famers have carried the ball in Cleveland. Here they all are as we count down the five best running backs in Browns franchise history.

 

5. Greg Pruitt (1973-81)

Pruitt averaged 4.7 yards a carry during his time in Cleveland and made four Pro Bowls. He was nagged by injuries in his later years there and was traded to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1982, where he was converted to return specialist. In his new position, he made another Pro Bowl and won a Super Bowl. Pruitt's propensity for wearing tear-away jerseys also prompted the NFL to ban them.

 

4. Bobby Mitchell (1958-61)

A running and receiving threat, Mitchell shared the backfield with Jim Brown, giving Cleveland one of the strongest offensive attacks in the league. During his four seasons in Cleveland, he accounted for 3,759 yards from scrimmage. In 1962, the Browns traded Mitchell to the Washington Redskins, who made him a flanker. His success with both franchises earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

3. Leroy Kelly (1964-73)

Following Jim Brown is no easy task, but after his sudden retirement in the 1966 offseason, Kelly got the starting spot and went on to have a Hall of Fame career. He led the NFL in rushing in 1967 and '68 and retired with 7,274 yards, making him the fourth-leading rusher in league history at the time behind Brown, Joe Perry, and Jim Taylor.

 

2. Marion Motley (1946-53)

Motley averaged over eight yards a carry his rookie season, more than six yards in 1947 and '48, and five yards in '49. When the Browns joined the NFL in 1950, he led the league in rushing with 810 yards. Motley also rushed for 188 yards on 11 carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers, setting an NFL record for yards per carry (17.1) in a single game that stood for 52 years. The Hall of Famer's career average of 5.7 yards per carry is the third in NFL history. Only Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham, both quarterbacks, are ahead of him.

 

1. Jim Brown (1957-65)

Brown led the league in rushing in eight of his nine seasons and retired as the career leader in yards and touchdowns. While his career records have been surpassed, he remains the only running back in NFL history to average more than 100 rushing yards a game.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

 

(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)

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