Cleveland Browns 2016 offensive line review and 2017 needs
The Cleveland Browns have some questions along the offensive line and here is how to fix them for the 2017 season.
The Cleveland Browns need help at every position group on the team.
Luckily they have both the draft picks – including five of the first 65 in the 2017 NFL Draft – and cap space – somewhere north of $105 million – to start solving some of the problems during this off-season.
While he is a smart guy, executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown can probably use some help with patching the holes on the roster, so let’s help him figure out how to improve the team in the fastest and most effective way, starting with the offensive line.
Related: Browns are set at right tackle
Pro Football Focus ranked the Browns offensive line 16th in the league in 2016. The offensive line struggled with injuries to several of the starters – most notably losing guards Joel Bitonio and John Greco to season-ending injuries – but still finished ranked in the middle of the pack.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
At left tackle is future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thomas. Even though Thomas is getting up there in age he is still one of the best in the NFL. The Browns are set at this position as Thomas doesn’t really require a backup as he has never missed an offensive snap in his 10 years with the Browns.
At left guard, Bitonio is entering his fourth season and hopefully he’ll stay healthy. He’s only played in 15 total games the past two seasons. When healthy, like he was during his rookie season, many thought Bitonio played well enough to make the Pro Bowl.
Spencer Drango had a difficult rookie season in 2016, but showed that he could play if given a chance. As often as injuries hit this offensive line, it’s a good possibility that everyone will play at least a little. Drango should be more comfortable, stronger and more confident going into his second year, making him a solid backup to Bitonio.
At center either Austin Reiter or Anthony Fabiano will end up as the starter, with the loser claiming the second-string roster spot. Reiter started one game in 2016 and looked promising before suffering a season-ending injury. If he can show the promise he flashed in his one game, the Browns are in good shape at center.
Related: Browns should draft Tyler Orlosky
At right guard Greco has earned the starting job for the Browns. Since joining the team in 2011 he’s been reliable and versatile, although the timetable for his return from a Lisfranc fracture is still unclear. If the Browns re-sign Austin Pasztor, who is a restricted free agent, then he will be Greco’s backup. Pasztor joined Thomas as the only offensive linemen to start every game in 2016.
At right tackle the Browns have recent draft picks Cameron Erving and Shon Coleman who will battle it out to see who is the starter and who is the backup. Both players showed bright spots in their limited action at right tackle last year. The competition should be healthy and exactly what the team needs here.
Next: Rumor: Browns hire David Lee as QB coach
Cleveland should have a enough talent already on the roster to field an offensive line with five starters and four guys to back them up without drafting anyone. Still, with so many picks in the 2017 draft and some injury concerns, the Browns would be wise to draft at least one lineman this year, with Temple’s Dion Dawkins being someone to keep an eye on.