The struggles of C.J.

By Jeff Schudel
Updated: December 10, 2010

OHIO — Some in the media covering the Browns, including someone with very, very close ties to this newspaper, thought the Browns should have used their first-round draft choice on running back C.J. Spiller.

Instead, the Browns drafted cornerback Joe Haden with the seventh overall pick. Haden has five interceptions, second-most in the AFC. He is a Pro Bowl candidate and might get some consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Spiller went two picks later to the Bills, who were desperate to find a replacement for Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. Lynch started 2010 with the Bills but was traded to Seattle early in the season.

So far, it isn’t even close. The Browns by far have gotten more production from their top pick. Spiller has 49 carries for 199 yards and 20 catches for 82 yards and one touchdown.

Even Bills coach Chan Gailey admits he thought he’d get more out of Spiller, who is playing behind Fred Jackson. Jackson leads the Bills with 663 yards rushing.

“C.J. is like most rookies. He’s in a learning mode,” Gailey said in a conference call. “He did things one way in college, and we’re trying to get him to adjust some things. He’s been hurt off and on.

“I was hoping there would be more opportunities for him and things would be further along than they are right now, but it is what it is. I think in the future he is going to be a very good football player for us and be very productive. He just has some things to learn.”

Spiller, a college teammate of former Browns running back James Davis, rushed for 1,212 yards as a senior at Clemson last year