The Cleveland Browns recently decided that putting Joel Bitonio at left tackle was the team’s best option, but it also shows how they feel about rookie Austin Corbett.
By moving Bitonio to tackle, it allowed the Browns to push rookie Austin Corbett into the starting lineup at left guard.
Browns head coach said by putting Bitonio at tackle and Corbett at guard, it allows the team to put “the best five players out there.” The decision to put Corbett into the starting lineup says a lot about how the team feels about the rookie lineman.
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The decision to draft Corbett with the 33rd overall pick when the team desperately needed a tackle confused a lot of people. Although Corbett played tackle in college, the expectation was that he was going to need to be kicked inside in the NFL.
Corbett does not have the typical length and agility that a NFL tackle needs to handle pass rushers. Former Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said that Corbett was best suited to play inside and would not be able to handle NFL edge rushers.
The Browns coaching staff must feel the same about Corbett. Corbett played a lot of reps at tackle in the first week of training camp. The team wanted to see how he handled the position while playing in pads before making the final decision about where to play him. After seeing him at tackle, the coaches still moved Corbett inside.
Cleveland having Corbett replace Bitonio also means that the team feels he can play very similar to Bitonio at guard. Bitonio is an elite guard in the NFL, but the coaching staff must feel that Corbett can match Bitonio’s talent at guard. Corbett has also played well enough during camp that urged the team to make this move.
If the Browns were willing to move an elite guard over to tackle, the team must feel that Corbett brings that same type of potential. It is a risky move, but it could be a move that pays off for the Browns.
It may take Bitonio a while to get used to the nuances of playing tackle in the NFL. He is going to be playing in more space against much faster players than he was used to playing against inside. He will get good experience at the position playing against Myles Garrett during training camp. And in the first day of practicing at tackle, Bitonio held up well against Garrett.
The team made the move early enough in camp that it gives Bitonio and Corbett time to get used to playing next to each other. It also gives Bitonio some time to learn the nuances of playing tackle. Corbett and Bitonio are both solid run blockers. Having both on the line could create a very strong run blocking unit on the left side of the line.
With the team desperately trying to find a left tackle before the season, this is a move that the team needed to make. Ultimately, it may be the best option for Cleveland, and could have also been the only option for the Browns.