3. Offensive and defensive line
The key to San Francisco’s success in 2019 was in the trenches. They were much better than almost all of their opponents up front, both offensively and defensively. Offensively they had six-time Pro Bowler Joe Staley at left tackle and 2018 first round pick Mike McGlinchey at right tackle. They had unity, stability, and familiarity up front, which the Browns have lacked for quite some time.
While on the defensive line they had one of the best units in football consisting of Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Dee Ford, and Arik Armstead. This unit was disruptive up front and caused continuous problems for opposing offenses. It was hard to run or throw on this front, and that is one of the main reasons the 49ers had one of the best defenses in the league.
The Browns can match this blueprint again. Their offensive line in 2019 was horrible and caused many problems for the offense. It was a huge issue heading into this offseason and has been a focal point. Cleveland signed the best available right tackle in the NFL, Jack Conklin. Conklin also is one of the best run blocking tackles in the game, particularly in wide zone schemes, which is perfect for the new Browns. The Browns went from one of the worst right tackles in the league to one of the best.
The left tackle position was also very poor in 2019 and will certainly be addressed in next Thursday’s NFL draft. The Browns have the No. 10 pick and will almost certainly spend that on a quality left tackle. Again, an assumed massive improvement at the position for Cleveland. Adding the 10th pick and Conklin to Joel Bitonio, J.C. Tretter, and either Drew Forbes or Wyatt Teller at right guard, this unit can actually be a major strength of the team. What a drastic change from last season.
The defensive line for the Browns is really talented. The unit is headlined by the incredible Myles Garrett, followed by Larry Ogunjobi, and two more Pro Bowlers Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon. They also have 2018 third round pick Chad Thomas, who made positive strides last season, and added great depth at defensive tackle with Andrew Billings this offseason.
The Browns have two good units in the trenches heading into 2020. They have not had good offensive and defensive lines at the same time in a while, so look for the Browns to utilize their big men to win some games.