Cleveland Browns: 6 second-year players to watch in 2016
By Joel W. Cade
Although not in a position to break out, second-year center Cameron Erving is poised to contribute for the Browns in 2016.
Erving has been the brunt of much criticism because his play almost single-handedly hurt multiple Browns starting quarterbacks. Worse, his rookie struggles were clearly visible and overly highlighted on national television.
The real problem Erving faced last year was learning the NFL game while also being asked to play every position except the one he was drafted to play. As a center, Erving deserved to be the 19th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. As a right tackle, right and left guard, Erving struggled.
His struggles revolved around technique. Believe it or not, playing center is much different from playing tackle and guard. Erving clearly struggled with pad level and footwork at guard. In turn, he was unable to use his above-average strength, demonstrated at the combine, on the football field. He clearly looked overmatched.
However, when the Browns settled him into one position and let him learn that one position, Erving made progress. He went from a liability on the field to almost disappearing – which is a good thing for an offensive lineman. When an offensive lineman’s play goes completely unnoticed, that is a good day at the office. Erving did not stand out either for good or bad toward the end of the season. In fact, if one watches Duke Johnson’s 39-yard run, one can see Erving make a terrific block at the right guard position.
This fall returns to center, which is a blessing for both Erving and Browns fans. Another blessing will be a return to the power run offense that Erving excelled under at Florida State. The comfort level of returning to center will help him progress even more in 2016 as he learns to make calls at the line and set pass protections.
He may not break out into a star this fall, but Erving should be a productive player in his first season as a full-time starter in the position he was drafted to play.
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