Browns Breakdowns: What Demetric Felton brings as a versatile offensive weapon

Felton created highlight-reel plays as both a running back and receiver at UCLA. So how will his versatility translate to the NFL?

Demetric Felton has changed his position on a daily basis ever since he became a high school football prospect.

From running back to receiver to special teams returner, Felton has the skills to play across several key positions. That's been his calling card since he rushed for more than 1,300 yards his senior year at Great Oak High School in California and topped the Pac-12 with 165.83 all-purpose yards per game in 2020.

His versatility was the reason why he was an attractive pick for the Browns in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Felton has the potential to plug multiple spots on Cleveland's depth chart, and his tape from UCLA provides plenty of evidence that his position-switching strengths will translate well to the NFL level, according to Dane Brugler, senior draft analyst for The Athletic.

"He's gone back and forth and back and forth," Brugler said in a "Browns Breakdowns" video with Nathan Zegura. "It's not because they couldn't find where to play him, but it's more because he can do both. They just tried to get him in position to get the football as many times as he could. I think his NFL future is going to be more as a receiver, but it's about the more he can do. The versatility is going to be key."

Felton provided several touchdowns and highlight-reel plays after catching passes behind the line of scrimmage and maximizing blockers in front of him to create big gains. His catching abilities and footwork are among his best traits, which is one reason why Brugler placed Felton at receiver rather than running back in his 2021 edition of "The Beast."

One player Brugler compared Felton to, however, was Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines. He's grown into an often-used versatile weapon and amassed 1,232 all-purpose yards last season, including seven touchdowns. Hines might not be the top running back or a top receiver on the Colts' depth chart, but he made the most of his ball-carrying opportunities.

Brugler believes Felton could grow into a similar player.

"You don't want to close the book on anything with him," Brugler said. "He's still developing as a route runner, and he's still learning some details of the position to be a full-time receiver. I think there might be some more manufactured touches early on to just find ways to get the ball in his hands. That's when he is most natural and feels most comfortable making plays."

But to maximize his potential, Felton must find a way to break into the run game, too. That'll be tough to do as a rookie with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt entrenched as the top RBs on the roster, but he certainly progressed as a running back at UCLA — he recorded a career-high 668 rushing yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry last year.

The Browns likely won't ask Felton to carry too heavy of a role as a running back this season, but Brugler believes he has the burst and vision for that to possibly change in the long-term.

"He keeps his options open because he has this vision to see, 'OK, if this is shut down, I'm going to do this, this and this,'" Brugler said. "He does a really nice job keeping those options open, keeping his feet alive and staying balanced so he can make something happen."

Not all sixth-round picks carve considerable roles with a team in their rookie season, but Felton could be an exception. His versatility could make it much more likely for him to see the field, especially if he cracks a role as a kick or punt returner, two jobs that are both up for grabs in training camp.

The next few weeks will reveal just how ready Felton is for all the different roles he could hold in the NFL. He'll have plenty of time to grow, but if he produces similar plays like he did at UCLA, he should be on the fast track for more playing time.

"He has a nose for the end zone and makes guys miss," Brugler said. "I'm impressed both with Felton and with the Browns for getting him as late as he did."

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