Cleveland Browns: 10 options if Mitchell Schwartz leaves
By Thomas Moore
The Browns hold the No. 2 and No. 32 overall selections in the 2016 NFL Draft, so if they decide to fix the right tackle hole through the draft, they should have some options.
Of course, drafting an offensive lineman and expecting him to step right into the starting lineup is becoming increasingly difficult as more college teams adopt a spread offense.
“You’re drafting a guy right now coming out of some colleges that hasn’t been in a three-point stance since high school, and you’re going to pay him a ton of money,” Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians told cleveland.com. “You have to teach him to get in a three-point stance and run block.
“It’s fundamentals that we’re going back now and having to teach. The athletes are much, much better, but the fundamentals are worse than they have ever been.”
Here are five players the Browns could look at if they decide the draft is the way to go – although it should be noted that not all of these players may still be available at No. 32, so it would take some maneuvering on the part of the Browns to get into a position to draft them.
Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
While he played left tackle for the Fighting Irish the past two seasons, Ronnie Stanley made 13 starts at right tackle in 2013. According to his draft profile at NFL.com, Stanley is a:
"Three-year starter with the outstanding foot quickness and pass protection talent expected from an early round left tackle prospect. Stanley showed great maturity in acknowledging his weaknesses and returning to school to work on them and improve his game. While Stanley’s core power is still a concern, he showed improved strength and run blocking prowess this year and should be ready to come in and start right away for a team looking to protect a high-end quarterback."
Taylor Decker, Ohio State
Taylor Decker made 14 starts at right tackle in 2013 for the Buckeyes before switching to left tackle for his final two years. According to his draft profile at NFL.com, Decker is:
"(A player whose) intangibles will likely help make up for some of his physical deficiencies, but he likely lacks the arm length and consistency against edge rushers to play on the left side as a pro. Decker has the run-blocking prowess and mindset to be a long-time starter at right tackle, but may always be a little leakier in pass protection than offensive line coaches and quarterbacks might like."
Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
A three-year starter for the Aggies, Germain Ifedi started as a guard before moving to right tackle for his final two seasons with the Aggies. According to his draft profile at NFL.com:
"NFL scouts see Ifedi as a guard, but a team may decide to try him at tackle before moving him inside. Ifedi has the tools and traits to become a good NFL offensive linemen if he can avoid the leaning and lunging that plagues him. A move inside combined with NFL coaching could unlock Ifedi’s high ceiling."
Jerald Hawkins, LSU
Jerald Hawkins was a two-year starter at right tackle for LSU before moving to the left side for the 2015 season. According to his draft profile at NFL.com:
"Hawkins is a tough evaluation because the length and footwork in pass protection are promising, but issues with bend and body control may be difficult to correct. Hawkins has talent, but his ceiling might be tied directly to whether a team allows him to sit while an offensive line coach works to correct the technical flaws that limit his effectiveness. Hawkins best spot may be right tackle."
John Theus, Georgia
John Theus is a versatile lineman who has played both right tackle and left tackle while starting 48 games for the Bulldogs. According to his draft profile at NFL.com, Theus is a:
"Consistent starting tackle from the SEC who has battled against upper-echelon college talent. While Theus has experience at both tackle spots, he may have issues in the NFL because he lacks the foot quickness of a left tackle and the power of a right tackle. He has the technique and talent to be drafted and fight for a swing tackle spot within his first two seasons, but he must add strength and mass."
Next: Free agency options at right tackle