Cleveland Browns: 4 thoughts on the state of the offensive line
By Joel W. Cade
3. Outside of Cam Erving – Center is a Mess
Reading between the lines, one gets the impression that center is a major position of concern for Hal Hunter. It should be. Even with all the progress of Cam Erving, he remains an unknown. Worse yet there is no defined back-up center beyond him.
For arguments sake, let us say Erving starts at center. On any given Sunday, the Browns may dress only seven or eight offensive linemen. Of the two or three spots beyond the starting five, one has to be a “swing” tackle. The other position must be an interior “swing” offensive lineman.
A swing player is someone who can play multiple positions on the line. Thus, for tackles, the swing tackle can play both left and right tackle. For interior linemen, it means the player must be able to play left guard, center and right guard. Ideally, two “swing” interiors would dress and one would be a natural center who can play guard.
An obvious choice for this position would be Mike Matthews, who already plays center but could learn to play guard. As of right now, this is most likely not happening. So far Hal Hunter has had Matthews primarily focusing on center, saying “There is so much going on at center right now.” Unless the Browns keep a dedicated backup center active on game days, expect Matthews not to make the team.
Beyond Matthews the plan is to use John Greco as the backup center. One need only to watch the one dreadful game Greco played at center in 2014 to know this is an awful idea. Even the former Browns coaching staff thought Greco at center was a bad idea. Yet, Hunter is limited in his options right now. Beyond Matthews and Greco, there are no serious center options.
The center position for the Browns is a mess. Beyond Erving the position is up for grabs. However, offensive tackle seems a little more settled than previously thought.
Next: The competition at right tackle