Cleveland Browns could add to their offensive line depth with Alex Boone.
The Cleveland Browns entered this offseason knowing they had to improve along the offensive line, and they did just that with the additions of Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills. Conklin and Wills will take over the starting tackle duties, which was the biggest issue with the Browns offensive front in 2019.
Conklin and Wills will join stalwarts on Cleveland’s offensive line, left guard Joel Bitonio and center J.C. Tretter. With those four linemen, it is clear the offensive line should be much improved in 2020. The only question that remains is at right guard.
Wyatt Teller, who started the final nine games of the season at right guard, appears to be the favorite for the job. However, Drew Forbes and Chris Hubbard are likely going to make it a competition for the starting job during training camp.
Even though Teller is the favorite for the job, he still has a lot to prove before being named the starter. Although he was an improvement over Eric Kush last season, he still was an average guard at best.
With so many questions at the position, the Browns could look to add any type of competition to find the best lineman suited to take over the starting job. If that is the case, the Browns could potentially look at a player like Alex Boone.
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Boone was once considered one of the top offensive guards in the NFL, but hasn’t played since 2017. Boone dealt with several injuries throughout his career, which played a role in his retirement. But after not playing the last two seasons, Boone is all-in on attempting a comeback.
As NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport mentioned Tuesday, Boone is fully healthy and is back at his playing weight, which ranged around 310-320 pounds. Boone is also still just 33-years-old, so he still could provide a few more seasons in the NFL.
He may no longer be a top-tier guard in the NFL, but it could be worth a look for the Browns. If he can provide better play than Teller, Hubbard, or Forbes, Cleveland could have an offensive line that provides plenty of time for Baker Mayfield while giving Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt holes to run through.
Boone does have some familiarity with Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski because of Boone’s time in Minnesota. Boone played one full season with the Vikings in 2016 and was with the team until after the 2017 preseason. He may not have worked directly with Stefanski, who was the running backs coach and quarterbacks coach when Boone was in Minnesota, but there should be some knowledge about each other from their brief time together with the Vikings.
If the Browns were to give Boone at least a tryout during training camp, it would be a question of if Boone would even be a fit in Cleveland’s offense. At 6-foot-8 and 310 pounds, Boone is more of a downhill, power blocker compared to being a lateral mover, which is what teams who run a zone system would prefer.
However, being a veteran in the league and rebuilding his health and getting his body into shape over the past two years, perhaps Boone has a better ability of moving laterally. He also has played in several systems during his career, so Boone would be able to quickly get used to the system.
There will be a lot of questions about Boone’s ability since his last time on the field was in 2017, but he is clearly motivated and having the time to get healthy should help him on the field. If he is able to show he has regained his strength, he could be a solid option to add to the offensive line.
Boone is able to play multiple positions and could provide a team a solid safety valve if he isn’t a starter. But if he is able to come back and perform as a starter, there could be a lot of upside to a potential Boone signing.
It also cannot be understated how good of a pass blocker Boone once was, as he received a pass-blocking efficiency grade of 97.7 from Pro Football Focus prior to the 2017 season. Boone was a dominating run blocker during his time with the 49ers, but he wasn’t the same type of run blocker once he joined Minnesota and Arizona.
A problem for Boone’s comeback could be the dilemma with COVID-19 testing. Boone joined Cleveland radio show Baskin and Phelps on 92.3 The Fan on Friday, and he said he has received interest from teams, but it is hard for teams to bring him in the facility because of the restrictions because of the virus.
If the Browns still are looking at options along the offensive line, Boone may be a better option than perceived. Also being a Cleveland native, Boone would be all for signing in Cleveland and competing for the right guard job.