After Kareem Hunt served his eight-game suspension last year, the Cleveland Browns under Freddie Kitchens put him all over the offense, including as a fullback, in the slot and out on the boundary as a receiver. Kevin Stefanski's coaching staff is at least hinting at the possibility that Hunt could be a multifaceted weapon in their offense as well, getting him on the field with Nick Chubb.
Wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Chad O'Shea was on a conference call with the local media Wednesday almost simultaneously as offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was on Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan, both mentioning Hunt's role in the offense.
The media asked O'Shea multiple times about the possibility that Hunt could operate as a receiver.
The reason is pretty simple. After Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, the only receiver who has really proven to be NFL capable is Rashard Higgins and he's missed significant time with injury each of the past two seasons.
Damion Ratley and KhaDarel Hodge were some of the other options that took reps at receiver last year but they were all outproduced by Hunt. Because of the emphasis on the tight end position, it's not as important for the Browns to have a room full of stud receivers, but they will have situations they have three receivers out there and that player is an injury away from being the starter.
Simply looking at putting the best 11 on the field for the Browns on offense, that would include Baker Mayfield and the line as well as Beckham, Landry, Nick Chubb, presumably Austin Hooper and then it's between Hunt, David Njoku and Higgins for that next best player. Hunt is certainly the most proven and is the early favorite unless Njoku can come on the way was at the end of 2018 and surpass it or Higgins can be consistent and stay on the field.
Hunt not only would provide options as a receiving threat, but they could use motion and the threat of jet sweeps to create some numbers advantages. Beyond being more proven, Hunt is also simply bigger than Higgins and any of the other receivers. And along with Andy Janovich as the team's fullback, the Browns have the capacity to quickly switch personnel to force opposing teams to play bigger, which may create some favorable matchups.
It sounds like aside from the role of fullback, which the Browns have addressed this offseason, that Hunt will be a joker type player and allow the Browns to be creative in the same way that Kitchens was, but hopefully more of the results from 2018 than the often combustible offense that the team fielded in 2019.