Cleveland Browns: The quiet emergence of Shon Coleman

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 31: John Jenkins
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 31: John Jenkins /

The Cleveland Browns have had a gaping hole at right tackle for years. But Shon Coleman is filling that void with his improved play.

The Cleveland Browns created a mess for themselves when they let Mitchell Schwartz leave two seasons ago. Since he left, the Browns have struggled to protect the passer and get effective push in the run game from the right tackle position.

When Schwartz left the Browns two seasons ago, there was much ink spilt over the deal Schwartz signed. Should the Browns have matched his offer? Should the Browns have signed Schwartz for more to prevent him from becoming a free agent? It was the first move in which the media began to openly question the competency of the Browns front office.

Later that offseason, the Browns drafted an oft injured offensive lineman from Auburn named Shon Coleman. The book on Coleman was that he was an outstanding run blocker who needed development in pass blocking. Also a part of the story was his brief hiatus from college football to battle leukemia.

Coleman represented exactly the type of player the Browns front office were looking for in the 2016 draft. He was an athletic freak who had overcome adversity in his life to arrive at the point where he is now.

He also fit another important profile that the Browns front office was looking for. He was a mauling right tackle who dominated in the run game. He fit the profile of a right tackle in head coach Hue Jackson’s offense.

His first season was essentially lost to an MCL strain. He spent most of training camp riding the bike trying to overcome yet another major setback in his career. Coleman continued to work hard, train and learn NFL football.

The few times he entered the game last season was primarily in heavy sets. His role was to line up as a tight end and provide extra run blocking support in short distance situations. He rarely played as the Browns were cautious with his return.

Coleman played for a significant amount of time in the final game of the 2016 NFL season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played most of the second half at right tackle. During that game he had several impressive run blocks, including one that sprung running back Isaiah Crowell on a long run.

However impressive his run blocking ability was that game, his pass blocking ability was as equally unimpressive. He struggled with balance in his passing sets, using leverage and delivering a strong punch.

More from Dawg Pound Daily

It was clear after that game that Coleman would be a serious asset in the run game but would need significant improvement as a pass blocker.

Coleman made the decision to stay in Cleveland this past offseason to train at the facility. He would often work with Pro-Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas who began to mentor Coleman.

The relationship proved fruitful as he improved greatly over the offseason. He eventually won the starting right tackle position in training camp over former first-round pick, Cameron Erving.

This season Coleman has quietly emerged as a solid right tackle for the Browns.

His ability to run block is at a Pro-Bowl level. He can generate movement off the ball in one-on- one situations. He also dominates on double-teams. What is most impressive about Coleman’s game his is ability to block effectively at the second level. His quickness allows him to get position on smaller and faster linebackers, then finish with his brute strength. His run blocking is truly impressive.

However, coming out of the gate, Coleman has struggled mightily in pass protection. He was bending at the waist while engaging defenders. Bending at the waist caused him to be off-balance, allowing seasoned NFL defenders to use his balance against him. His drops were (and to an extent still are) too wide allowing defenders an inside rush to the quarterback.

Coleman’s on-the-job training in pass protection is starting to bear fruit. The last two weeks, Coleman has played with improved technique. He is bending at his knees, allowing him to engage defenders with adequate balance. His pass drops have improved, allowing him to harmlessly run defenders behind the quarterback.

Coleman has quietly emerged as the long-awaited solution to the void left by Mitchell Schwartz’s departure. In fact, should Coleman’s pass protection continue to improve, not only will Coleman be a better fit in Jackson’s scheme but will also be an upgrade at the position for the Browns.

Next: Talking the Week 5 loss in the DPD Podcast

For all the heat the Browns front office is currently taking, they got it right with Shon Coleman.