The 2007 offensive line saw the beginning of something special. This was the greatest offensive tackle of all time’s first season. Thomas suited up and started all 16 games at left tackle, making the Pro Bowl for the first time in his illustrious career. No one will ever play the position for the Browns better, so right there is a victory for the 2007 team.
Other than the G.O.A.T., the 2007 line was pretty average. None of the other starters ever made a Pro Bowl. Eric Steinbach was a good left guard who anchored down that spot next to Thomas for all 16 games. Hank Fraley got all 16 starts that season at center. Ryan Tucker and Seth McKinney each started 8 games a piece at right guard. Kevin Shaffer got all 16 starts at right tackle.
The consistency on the offensive line, only having to swap out the right guard spot half way through the season, was big for the team’s success. Every linemen had also started at 16 games in a season once besides Thomas, most of them doing this multiple seasons.
Offensive line is a position where consistency is key, due to the five men needing to work as one impenetrable wall in pass pro, and as a human steamroller in the run game.
The 2018 Cleveland Browns offensive line is in a predicament that the team hasn’t been in since 2006. Who do they start at left tackle? Who can possibly do the job that Thomas has done over the past decade? There’s no easy answer to that.
The team has arguably the most talented offensive line its ever had. Joel Bitonio and Kevin Zeitler are two of the top 10 offensive guards in the league, both earning big bucks for their outstanding play. They are both arguably the best players in the NFL to not make a Pro Bowl this season.
That’s also a reminder to Browns fans, we need to get those guys in there this season!
Bitonio has taken on the task of moving to left tackle to replace Joe Thomas. Its concerning the offensive line is already on what offensive line coach Bob Wylie called “Plan Z,” but Bitonio has arguably been the man for the job since Thomas retired. He did, after all, learn to play the game right next to Thomas, picking up all of his tips and tricks.
Rookie Austin Corbett will be the starting left guard right next to his mentor, Bitonio. The two both went to the University of Nevada and already have chemistry built up from summer workouts together in previous years. Corbett was also selected with the same pick as Steinbach, just 16 years later.
J.C. Tretter is an above average center when healthy, and Zeitler is a top 3 right guard in the NFL. Chris Hubbard at right tackle is the offensive line’s biggest question, as he has only started 14 games in his four-year career.
While the 2007 team definitely had the best overall offensive lineman in this comparison in Thomas, the 2018 group has the best collection of talent.
2018 Cleveland Browns