Browns’ fans had some serious questions about the offensive line coming into the 2020 offseason. Andrew Berry and his staff had the same questions/concerns and went to work fixing the problems. Berry started his repair of the line by signing the best tackle on the market in Jack Conklin. Conklin is a perfect fit for what the Browns want to do on offense.
He then drafted Jedrick Wills, who most experts rated as one of the top three offensive tackles in the NFL draft. Wills has the athletic ability to dominate in the zone scheme that new head coach Kevin Stefanski will implement. Add those two to Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter, and the potential for this line is through the roof. Berry has done everything asked of him to take a weakness and make it the potential strength of his offense. The only question left is at right guard, and the Browns have options.
Jedrick Wills, Left Tackle
Jedrick comes out of Alabama as one of the highest-rated tackles in the NFL Draft. He will step in at left tackle for the Browns after being a right tackle in college. Everything about Wills says he should be able to make the switch, but this type of change has not always worked out at the NFL level. If you think the Browns weren’t excited that Wills was on the board at ten, you must not have watched the draft. Based on how quickly the card got to the commissioner, the Browns brass is confident Wills will be the answer. Let’s hope they are right and he is at left tackle for a long time.
Joel Bitonio, Left Guard
Bitonio came to the Browns out of Nevada via a second-round pick in the 2014 draft. After spending four years at Nevada and manning the left tackle position the last two, he was moved to guard in the NFL. All Bitonio has done since being drafted is to go to two pro bowls and become one of the best guards in the NFL.
Per Pro Football Focus, Bitonio graded out as the 11th best guard in the NFL with a 74.2 overall grade. Bitonio’s grade has been held up by being an excellent pass blocker and only about average in run blocking. That could change this season in the new zone scheme based on his history. In 2014, his rookie season, the Browns offense, was run by Kyle Shanahan, and Bitonio scored his second-highest run-blocking grade (72.9) of his career. This season Kevin Stefanski will run a similar offense, which could make Bitonio a top-five guard in 2020.
J.C. Tretter, Center
Tretter has come a long way since the Browns signed him back in 2017 on a three-year deal. Coming over from Green Bay known as a talented but injury-prone lineman Tretter has started 48 straight games at center. His durability and high level of play earned him another three-year deal, this time worth $32.5 million with $23 million guaranteed. Tretter has been a top-rated center per Pro Football Focus two years running. Like Bitonio, he is an elite pass protector and should benefit from the zone scheme in his run blocking.
Wyatt Teller, Right Guard
Teller is in the starting five right now based solely on the fact that he started nine games last season. This position will be up for grabs come training camp. Teller will need to show he can be better than last year when Pro Football Focus rated him the 55th ranked guard in the NFL. His run blocking was abysmal, ranking 64th out of 76 qualifying players. The Browns have Drew Forbes, Chris Hubbard, and others that will fight to take the starting spot for themselves. Teller showed signs during the last few weeks of 2019 and will need to continue to impress to keep the starting job. Maybe the Browns make a play for Larry Warford?
Jack Conklin, Right Tackle
Conklin was the prized free-agent if you ask any Browns fan on earth. He comes to Cleveland with elite run blocking ability and a reliable, disciplined pass protector. At only 25 years old, Conklin is young enough to provide elite blocking for the length of his three-year deal. Last season, in over 1100 snaps, Conklin was penalized seven times and gave up four sacks. He also graded out as the sixth-best run-blocking tackle in the NFL. He opened up lanes for rushing champion Derrick Henry and now moves to the Browns to do the same for runner up Nick Chubb.
The Potential Backups
Harris was taken in the fifth round out of Washington. Harris will be given every chance to make the roster and possesses all the tools to fit in the Browns new scheme. He has quick feet and is best on the move blocking. Harris will make the roster in the end and learn from Tretter.
Brown has signed this offseason after being waived by the Miami Dolphins. He went undrafted out of SMU and was signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent last year. He spent time on both the Giants and Dolphins rosters and practice squads. A backup at center Browns will be fighting with fifth-round pick Nick harris for a roster spot. Both players lack the size to challenge at guard.
Hubbard was a big signing for John Dorsey back in 2017. He received a five year $37.5 million contract to solidify the right tackle position. Over the last two years, he has been one of the worst starting tackles in the NFL. Seeing the writing on the wall this offseason, Hubbard restructured his deal to remain a Brown. Hubbard will likely be in the running at right guard. If he loses the job, he likely remains as the top backup.
Forbes was drafted in the sixth round in 2019 and spent most of the year on I.R. A lot of experts felt that Forbes could be a sleeper pick to male a roster 2019. Forbes will also be thrown into the mix at right guard. He is athletic and fits the mold for this offense and could be a great find if he pans out.
Lamm is a solid veteran swing tackle that will likely be in a fight with Hubbard to remain on the team. Should some of the younger guys work out it could spell the end for both of them in Cleveland. One thing that the front office will do is find cheap talent and use it to exploit keeping top end talent. That could cost these veterans jobs.
Wright, at 6’3″ 300 pounds, has the slender build you may like in a zone scheme. He could stick on the practice squad come cut down time. It is more likely he is out the door the minute someone better comes along.
At 6’6″ 331 pounds, Pridgeon has the build for a more power-based offense. While Pridgeon has athletic ability for his size, it may not be enough to find his way to a roster spot. He feels like a candidate to be let go at the start of cut downs or before.
Gossett is a big man that can run a bit. He dropped a 5.1 40 at the combine and a 4.83 shuttle. While Gossett needs some fundamental work and increased strength, he could make a push to hold a spot. If nothing, maybe he hangs on as a practice squad player.
Undrafted Free Agents
Drake Dorbeck, offensive tackle, Southern Mississippi
Dorbeck is a hard-working standout lineman for the Golden Eagles. Dorbeck also took home the Entergy Kent Hull Trophy as the best lineman in the state. He is the seventh winner of the award, and the others have either played or play in the NFL. It will be a tough climb to get onto this roster, but the practice squad is a definite possibility.
Alex Taylor, offensive tackle, South Carolina State
Taylor has a legit shot at making this roster out of SC State if he is as good as some scouts think. Some experts had him being drafted in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft. If Taylor can display that kind of talent, he could easily displace Kendall Lamm or even Chris Hubbard for a spot on the roster. Should he fail to make the team, a practice squad invite is a lock.
All Browns Roster Breakdowns:
- Running Back
- Wide receiver
- Tight End
- Offensive Line
- Defensive Line
Follow me on Twitter for more great content @WeirdJBronavich.