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2020 Cleveland Browns Positional Breakdown: Offensive Line

In today’s article which is fifth installment of the 2020 Cleveland Browns Positional Breakdown; Downtown Browns will feature the last positional group of the offense, the Offensive Line. Going into the 2020 off-season, the offensive line was a position needed to be addressed by the team, as it had major holes last season. The offensive line struggled to stay healthy and to keep quarterback Baker Mayfield safe within the pocket. GM Andrew Berry and his staffed addressed the position and after it’s all said and done, the Browns made a massive upgrade at the position. Let’s begin.

 

JC Tretter (signed until 2022, Opt Out in 2021, Free Agent in 2023)

2020 Contract: $9.975M

What else is there to say about Cleveland Browns Center JC Tretter? Not much other than an anchor of this offense.

Last season Tretter had 1,039 offensive snaps for the Browns which was ranked 13th last season for all centers according to Pro Football Focus. The Cornell product is going into his seventh season in the NFL, his fourth as a Brown. While the offensive line as whole struggled to help keep Baker Mayfield safe, Tretter only allowed one sack for the whole season which was tied for 19th league wide. He also only committed five penalties (ranked 8th). Basically Tretter is a rock for the offense which continues the lineage of great Centers the Browns have produced after having Alex Mack on the team for awhile.

Tretter does have an opt out clause going into the 2021 season and with the addition of Nick Harris will the Browns move on from Tretter after the 2020 season? There can be a case to keep him until his contract runs out after the 2022 season which would give Harris two years to learn the position as being Tretter’s backup. Should be interesting to see what the Browns do at that position in the next two seasons.

 

Nick Harris (“signed” until 2023, Free Agent 2024)

2020 Contract: N/A

As of this article Nick Harris hasn’t signed his rookie contract with the Browns but it is known that he will be with the team until 2023.

Harris had a successful college career at the University of Washington where he originally played as a guard on both sides of the offensive line. Although, before his junior year he was converted to play center, which in the end helped him in many ways. He would go onto becoming a two-time first-team All-PAC 12 player in his junior and senior year.

Expectations for Harris

The Browns see him as a guy who can wide into their wide zone scheme along with helping out at depth in guard since he has some experience their. It is clear that he is the center of the future behind J.C. Tretter since the Browns needed to pickup a backup center. Harris could be a pick that the Browns look back on as a steal from the 2020 draft he can build a career at center just like JC Tretter and Alex Mack before him.

 

Joel Bitonio (signed until 2022, Free Agent in 2023)

2020 Contract: $9M

When you ask Browns fans who’s the fan favorite on the offensive line, a majority would say Joel Bitonio. Bitonio is entering his seventh season in the NFL, all with the Browns.

The back-to-back Pro Bowler will look to help the offensive line, along with JC Tretter, bounce back to give the offense some momentum going into games during the 2020 season. Bitonio last season played in 1,039 offensive snaps just like Tretter did for the Browns. Bitonio did give up three sacks compared to Tretter’s one but did have two less penalties to his name.

Expectations for Bitonio

Bitonio will plan to be the Browns starting Left Guard once again working along side the Browns 10th overall pick of Jendrick Wills Jr who is slotted to play Left Tackle. Expect Bitonio to provide help to Wills on working as a tandem on the left side to protect Mayfield’s blind side going into the 2020 season. Bitonio is still under contract until 2023 so Browns fans should feel as ease with him being on the team hopefully until then as their lock at the Left Guard Position

 

Drew Forbes (signed until 2022, Free Agent in 2023)

2020 Contract: $717K

For like most of the offensive line in terms of the backups, there isn’t much to say for second year player Drew Forbes. Last years sixth round pick for the Browns only appeared in two games with not very snaps to his name.

When you have the likes of Joel Bitonio as your starting left guard, there won’t be much playing time. Forbes is going into his second year as the backup once again to Bitonio. If the Browns have a decisive lead maybe Forbes will get some snaps for the Browns this season. Forbes will take 2020 as another year to learn behind Bitonio and make a name for himself once he’s called upon to help in certain situations.

 

Wyatt Teller (signed until 2021, Free Agent in 2022)

2020 Contract: $750K

Wyatt Teller is going into his second season with the Browns, third in the NFL after stating 9 of the 15 games that he played in last year for the Browns. Teller managed to have 557 offensive snaps which is ranked 66th by Pro Football Focus.

Teller came on late last year to become the Browns starting Right Guard and seemed to have managed to do a decent job at the position. Unfortunately, it’s not known if the Browns will bring in someone who is more solidified at the position or roll with Teller for a full 16-game season as a starter. Teller last year did managed to only give up one sack so that is something for him to hang his hat on. It will all come down to if he is the right fit at the Right Guard position in the Browns eyes as the 2020 season approaches.

Jack Conklin (signed until 2022, Opt Out In 2022, 2023 & 2024 Options)

2020 Contract: $8M

Coming into the 2020 offseason the Browns needed to address the Offensive Line especially on the right side, and did the Browns ever do so.

The Browns went after highly sought after free agent in Jack Conklin who made a name for himself with the Tennessee Titans as their starting Right Tackle. The Browns signed Conklin to a 3-year/$42M deal that has him locked up through the 2022 season but does have options in 2023, & 2024. If the Browns do let him go though before 2022 there would be a $6M dead cap penalty towards the team. But when you bring in a player like Conklin, don’t expect the Browns to get rid of him.

Expectations for Conklin

Conklin last year played in 933 offensive snaps which according to Pro Football Focus was ranked 31st in the tackle position. He will be penned in as the Browns starting Right Tackle and someone who could help Jedrick Wills learn tackle in the NFL given that Wills played Right Tackle in college. However, Wills will most likely play on the left side with the Browns. This would mainly be to help the rookie get used to life as a NFL Tackler. Expect Conklin to provide blocks for Baker while opening up holes in the line for running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Jedrick Wills Jr (“signed” until 2023, Free Agent in 2024)

2020 Contract: N/A

Just like his fellow rookie counterpart Nick Harris, Jedrick Wills hasn’t signed his rookie contract yet but he will be most certainly a Cleveland Brown until 2024.

Going into the 2020 NFL Draft, everyone knew that the Browns were going to go after a Left Tackle. No one knew for sure who but that was the speculation going into the draft. As the 10th overall pick came it was clear the Browns were going to go after their guy. That guy was Jedrick Wills.

Expectations for Wills

Wills did play most of his college career at Right Tackle, but that’s was to play the blindside for a left handed quarterback. Former Browns Left Tackle, and Futrure Hall of Famer Joe Thomas thinks that Wills has what it takes to convert to the Left Tackle position.

Wills is a guy who can be a first-year starter that you can plug in at left tackle since the Browns signed former Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin during the off-season. At the combine, Wills ran a 5.05 40-yard dash and had a vertical of 34.5 inches. This guy is a physical specimen and someone who can be a solid anchor on that offensive line. It will take a couple months but expect Wills to be play well as the blindside tackle to protect Baker Mayfield and block for Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt in the ground game.

 

Chris Hubbard (signed until 2022, Free Agent in 2023)

2020 Contract: $3.6M

When it comes to Right Tackle Chris Hubbard, this could make an interesting situation with the Browns recently signing Jack Conklin in free agency.

Hubbard is entering his third season with the Browns after playing in 30 games for the them the last two seasons. Unfortunately, Hubbard did allow six sacks last year which was ranked T-17th by Pro Football Focus and did commit eight penalties as well. He seemed to have struggled a lot last season to help protect the pocket for Mayfield as the season progressed.  That could be one of the reasons why the Browns went after Conklin in free agency during the summer.

Time will tell if the Browns keep Hubbard after the 2020 season or potentially move him during or after this season if Conklin plays like how the Browns think he will. It depends on how Hubbard plays in this situation given that he will now mainly be a backup this year.

 

Summary

The Cleveland Browns set out to revamp the Offensive Line during the 2020 off-season and they did in a massive way. The additions of Jack Conklin in free agency, and Jedrick Wills in the draft bolster a line that needed some help after it’s struggles last season. Given that the Browns could have 4 of 5 positions locked down to be a force to be reckoned with, expect more time for Baker Mayfield in the pocket.

Furthermore, there could be an upside in the rushing numbers for the team in Chubb, and Hunt with the line who is capable of massive run blocking. The Browns took a weakness and turned it into a force that the defenses of the AFC North will have a tough time getting through this season. The 2020 season should be an exciting one with an offensive line that has a shot to be Top 5-10 in the league by seasons end. Only time will tell.

Zach Martin
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