Analyst Proposes Interesting Position Switch for Browns Starter

Getty Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and offensive tackle Chris Hubbard celebrate with wide receiver Rashard Higgins.

The Cleveland Browns have put some nice pieces together to rebuild their offensive line this offseason, but there are still some questions surrounding the right guard position.

Chris Hubbard has more than 40 career starts at tackle — including 13 last season with the Browns. But a position change shifting inside to guard could help him stay on the field, as Bleacher Report analyst Gary Davenport points out.

The Browns don’t have an official depth chart yet, but it’s assumed Hubbard would compete with the likes of Wyatt Teller — who started nine games last season for the Browns at right guard — as well as Drew Forbes, Colby Gossett and Willie Wright.

The rest of the offensive line spots have assumed starters. The team brought in Jedrick Wills to man the left tackle spot with their top pick in the draft, signed big-money right tackle Jack Conklin to take over Hubbard’s position and already had talented starters in center JC Tretter and left guard Joel Bitonio, who made the Pro Bowl last season.

“Hubbard is admittedly a little undersized weight-wise to play on the interior,” Davenport wrote. “But Cleveland’s new offense favors smaller, quicker linemen, so that’s not necessarily an issue. He’d also be “protected” by being flanked by Conklin and Tretter.”

Chris Hubbard Could Make Money With Position Change

Hubbard lost his starting right tackle job to Conklin, who the Browns signed in free agency to a hefty three-year, $42 million deal. But instead of being released and hitting free agency himself, Hubbard decided to take a large pay cut to stay in Cleveland.

Hubbard will make a base salary of $2.5 million next season, according to ESPN, a decrease from the $6.47 million in salary and bonuses he was scheduled to make in 2020. As Field Yates reported, Hubbard will haul in a $1 million signing bonus. The max cash value of the contract is $5 million next season. If for some reason Hubbard plays 90 percent of the snaps in 2020, he can void the 2021 year and hit free agency.

It’s unlikely that he’ll start over Conklin or Wills, barring injury, so guard might be his best shot.

“That is up for grabs,” Browns offensive line coach Bill Callahan said of the right guard spot this offseason. “There will be a lot of time for competition. I think that will sort itself out as we move along.”

Bill Callahan on Jedrick Wills: "He came alive on tape" | Cleveland Browns Press ConferenceOffensive line coach Bill Callahan addressed the media via Zoom on May 14, 2020. Bill discusses how the team is dealing with virtual meetings and what it's like getting to know 1st round draft pick Jedrick Wills. #BrownsMedia #PressConference2020-05-14T21:31:34Z

Chris Hubbard Has Not Been Getting it Done in Protection

Hubbard is relying on his versatility to maintain a roster spot, with the ability to cover either tackle spot and theoretically shift to guard. He’s played both right and left tackle in the NFL, but hasn’t been getting it done in recent years. Last season he was called for eight penalties and allowed six sacks.

When it comes to a position change for Hubbard, it will likely come down to the coaches seeing the players in person. Due to COVID-19, that hasn’t been possible, although the Browns were set to start Phase 1 of opening their facilities on Monday.

“I am still getting familiarized with all the players,” Callahan said. “I have not met them all yet — just only virtually. It is always such a change, and we are just going to keep assessing and evaluating the position as we move forward. There are enough candidates in there that I think someone will rise to the occasion and take over that spot.”

If that person will be Hubbard is still to be determined.

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