Cleveland Browns Training Camp Preview: Right Guard


The Cleveland Browns enter training camp with questions at right guard. Will the old veteran hold off an up-and-coming rookie?

This is the fourth installment of a five-part training camp preview of the Cleveland Browns offensive line. In part four we will take a look at the right guard position. 

The Cleveland Browns plan to use the power run combined with a quick passing scheme to keep defenses on their heels. This will be very important in a defense-heavy AFC North.

Despite all their injuries, the Baltimore Ravens were still in the top-10 in the league in yards allowed per game last year. The Cincinnati Bengals were not far behind, finishing 11th in the league in the same category. The Pittsburgh Steelers made up for their lack of defense with a prolific offense. The Browns will have to do the same this year to be competitive. The change to power run will give the offense a solid running attack that the 2015 Browns did not possess.

In a power run scheme, the right guard must be able to run block effectively. A part of effective run blocking is movement off the line of scrimmage. Most running teams are “right handed,” as the strength of the offense is set to the right. Setting the strength can happen a lot of ways.

Traditionally, a tight end lines up beside the right tackle. In today’s NFL, with the rise of the spread offense, setting the offensive strength may mean a split end or extra receiver to one side. Either way, offenses still tend to run the ball predominantly to the right. This means the right side of the line must be effective run blockers.

The right guard position is a clear example of the need to run block. Unlike the left guard, whose job in the run game is to pull and kick out, the right guard must get movement off the line of scrimmage. In order to be effective, the right guard must be big and strong enough to generate power and leverage. The right guard will occasionally pull to provide key busters and a semblance of balance on offense. Balance on offensive is essential, but unfortunately no balance was found on last year’s team.

Related Story: Browns Camp Preview: Center

The unbalanced and incoherent offense created by Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine hurt the entire offensive line. The offensive issues were exacerbated by the loss of Andy Moeller at the beginning of the season. Without a clear plan or an experienced coach, the offensive line struggled mightily.

John Greco was at the center of these struggles. Pro Football Focus recently stated that Greco had the worst season since PFF began grading players. Such a report does not inspire confidence in the returning starter.

It seems every year there is a battle in camp for the right guard position. That battle seems to be won every year by Greco. Expect this camp to be no different.

Even though confidence is waning in John Greco, he is still the best option for the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He is the best option primarily because from center to right guard to right tackle, the Browns offensive line is a mess. Somebody has to stabilize the right side of the offensive line going into the season. The returning three-year starter is the man to do it.

More from Dawg Pound Daily

The primary backup to Greco will most likely be Spencer Drango. Drango was drafted out of Baylor in the fifth round by the Browns in 2016. Keeping the Baylor connection going in Cleveland, Drango played left tackle in college. He has practiced at right tackle thus far at OTAs and will probably move back to guard at training camp. He has the size of a tackle but has the arm length and quickness necessary for guard. He projects long-term to be a guard in the NFL.

One of Drango’s major strengths is his ability to run block. Like most newly drafted Browns, he plays with a mean streak on the field. He excels at one-on-one run blocks and getting movement off the ball. He fits exactly what the Browns are looking for in a power run scheme at right guard.

However, given the precarious state of the right side of the offensive line, expect the Browns to keep Greco starting at right guard while breaking in a new center and right tackle in the 2016 season. Drango will develop into a swing guard role, and if the Browns are committed to Drango, one might see him taking snaps at center during training camp.

Long-term, Drango will replace Greco at guard. Given how Greco has been able to hold off all challengers, Drango may have to wait until Greco’s contract ends before he will see the field at right guard.

Next: Fear the AFC North

Should Greco start in 2016, the Browns will have an experienced right guard who, given a balanced offensive line friendly scheme, will take pressure off center Cam Erving and the new starting right tackle, while solidifying the right side of the line.