Cleveland Browns: Joe Thomas believes in Greg Robinson at left tackle

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 04: Former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas looks on during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 04: Former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas looks on during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns have been looking for a left tackle since Joe Thomas retired in the off-season, but the future Hall of Famer believes Greg Robinson could be the future.

The Cleveland Browns were spoiled having a Hall of Fame caliber left tackle like Joe Thomas for so many years. Since Thomas retired in the off-season, the difference at the position has been extremely noticeable.

No longer do the Browns have a stalwart protecting the quarterback’s blind-side. Instead, the Browns have tried multiple players at the position, and the quarterbacks have been feeling the pressure because of it.

It appeared the Browns were going to open the season with Joel Bitonio moving from left guard to left tackle. But instead, the Browns decided to start undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison in the regular season opener.

More from Dawg Pound Daily

Harrison started the first eight games of the season and had his ups-and-downs. Pro Football Focus gave Harrison an overall grade of 57.6, which ranked him as the 64th best tackle this season. Harrison allowed 32 pressures, according to PFF.

After Gregg Williams was named the Browns interim head coach, Harrison was benched and Greg Robinson was named the team’s starting left tackle. He has started the last five games for the Browns, and the results have been better.

Pro Football Focus has not been kind to Robinson, however, giving him a grade of 54.0, ranking him as the 68th best tackle. He has allowed 13 pressures and has been called for a fair share of penalties. Despite that, the Browns offensive line has looked much better since Williams was promoted and Freddie Kitchens became the team’s offensive coordinator, and the difference at left tackle has been noticeable.

Robinson has had some struggles at the position, but Thomas has been a fan of what the 26-year-old has been able to do as the Browns starting left tackle.

“I think he has been doing really well. He’s definitely exceeded expectations,” Thomas said during the Cleveland Browns Daily radio show on Monday. “He’s been very firm in protection, his footwork has been really good. A couple times in the last couple weeks you see him get in a little bit of trouble and he got a holding penalty, a couple last week. He’s working through those things.

“And to me the thing that’s the most exciting about Greg is those times where he has made those mistakes in the last couple weeks was strictly technical. It wasn’t, “Well he’s just not quick enough, or you know, he’s not strong enough.” Those are things that are real big problems, cause how do you fix that overnight.

“But when it’s a technical issue, it’s a little detail issue, that’s something you can get fixed in one practice, and all of a sudden you become a much better player. So for me, he’s played really well and the upside is still even higher right now. He could be their left tackle for several years.”

If the Browns see the same things that Thomas is seeing, then there is reason to believe that Robinson’s performance can improve. The second overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft is still a young player and has room to grow, despite being viewed as a bust by most that follow the league.

Robinson obviously had the talent necessary in order to be drafted so high. If Robinson was put around bad coaching during his first few years in the league, he was not going to develop properly. And if he was not developing and playing well, his confidence was going to be shattered, further hurting his performance on the field.

No one knows what exactly happened with Robinson and why he was never able to live up to where he was drafted. Perhaps him joining the Browns and surrounding himself with veterans like Bitonio, J.C. Tretter, and Kevin Zeitler and having a coach like Bob Wylie was what Robinson needed to turn his career around.

The Browns continuing to start him at left tackle for the rest of the season and give him experience next to one of the best guards in the league in Bitonio could allow Robinson to finally tap into his potential and become a better NFL offensive tackle.

His future may not be at left tackle, however, as the pressure he has allowed is still concerning. Mayfield has been able to navigate around the pressure, rarely letting the pressure affect his throws. But Robinson may be better suited at right tackle, while the Browns continue to search for another stud left tackle in the off-season.

Next. Week 14: Browns 2019 7-round mock draft. dark

But for the time being, Robinson is doing a good enough job at left tackle to help the Browns offense to continue to improve. And the fact that his play has impressed a former player like Thomas is a good sign for Robinson.

For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe
to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at