The Cleveland Browns decided to stand pat with their No. 10 overall pick and fill a major need by drafting who they hope is their left tackle of the future in Alabama’s Jedrick Wills.
Despite it being a deep tackle draft class, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas was the only tackle off the board through the first nine picks. Thomas was taken by the Giants at No. 4.
There was speculation that the Browns could trade out of the No. 10 spot and take a tackle later in the draft, or possibly make a move for Washington Redskins veteran Trent Williams, who has been a long-time target for the team dating back to last season. By selecting Wills, the Browns have effectively removed themselves from the Williams sweepstakes.
Here’s the breakdown of Wills as a prospect, via Steve Muench ESPN.
“Wills is a mauler and natural finisher with the power to move defenders in the run game. He’s an easy knee-bender with a powerful punch who rarely gives ground in pass protection. He oversets at times but he has enough balance and agility to stay in front of defenders when his footwork is sound. Wills grades out as a plug-and-play starter at right tackle, but he also could kick inside to guard.”
Browns Needed Help on Offensive Line
The Browns offensive line ranked in the bottom half of the league in terms of pass-protection last season and quarterback Baker Mayfield was sacked 40 times — the seventh most in the NFL. While that is less than ideal to begin with, the number doesn’t tell the story of the consistent pressure Mayfield faced, often having to make throws on the run.
After garnering some MVP hype in the preseason following a record-setting rookie year, Mayfield finished the year with 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, ranking next-to-last in both passer rating (78.8) and completion percentage (59.4%) despite having both Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry at his disposal.
That being said, the franchise has expressed that they are fully behind Mayfield — a former No. 1 overall pick — as their QB of the future.
“I believe in Baker Mayfield,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said on a conference call this offseason, per cleveland.com. “I just think organizationally we believe in Baker Mayfield and this was part of my job and our job to surround him with some people that are going to help make the best version of Baker Mayfield.”
Browns Added Jack Conklin to Shore Up Line
The Browns line includes JC Tretter and Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio. Tretter signed a long-term deal last season and Bitonio is signed through the 2022 season. There’s also a good chance that the Browns will add an offensive line with the No. 10 pick in the draft. Cleveland will not bring back tackle Greg Robinson, a former No. 2 overall pick who was arrested with 157 pounds of marijuana on him at the US-Mexico border.
The Browns made a splash in free agency by signing right tackle Jack Conklin to a three-year, $42 million deal.
Conklin was drafted No. 8 overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2016 out of Michigan State. He started 38 of his 39 career games — 35 at left tackle, three at right tackle — with the Spartans.
Conklin was a first-team All-Pro selection his rookie year and has started every game of his NFL career that he’s been healthy for. He played just nine games in 2018 due to injury, but hasn’t missed a game in his other three seasons.
“He’s a really smart, tough football player,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said of Conklin, via the Browns official site. “From what I have heard about him and talked to former coaches and teammates, he’s all about ball. I think he’s going to really fit in with that offensive line group led by Coach (Bill) Callahan. I think those guys are the pulse of your football team, the guys up front on the offensive and defensive lines. … I think Jack represents everything we want to be as a team.”
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