NFL analyst names Cleveland Browns O-line as league’s best
In a recent segment on NFL Total Access, which airs on the NFL Network, Brian Baldinger named the Cleveland Browns offensive line as the best unit in the league.
There is no shortage of NFL analysts giving their opinions on television, the internet, or on Twitter. However, it should be noted that not all opinions are weighted equally. As anyone who follows the NFL on a regular basis can tell you, the opinion of Brian Baldinger carries a significant amount of weight.
Baldinger, who appeared on the NFL Network recently, was asked who he believed to be the top offensive line unit in the league. His answer: ‘the Union’, which is a nickname Baldinger bestowed on the Cleveland Browns offensive line during the 2020 season. Baldinger was emphatic in his praise for Cleveland’s front five.
Baldinger: “When they take on a defensive line, they mangle them, they carve them up the middle…they’re the gold standard right now.”
His love for ‘the Union’ began last season. Baldinger highlighted the unit several times on Baldy’s Breakdowns, an in-depth series highlighting outstanding efforts during the season, that can be found on YouTube and Twitter.
Baldy’s optimism that the Browns will be able to maintain or exceed their play from last season is well placed. The Browns return all of their starters up front and even retained most of their key backups as well.
Of the five starters: Joel Bitonio, J.C. Tretter, and Jack Conklin are seasoned veterans and should be able to maintain their level play from last season.
The emergence of Wyatt Teller in 2020 as one of the best interior offensive linemen in the game caught many off guard. Teller spent 2019 transitioning from left guard to right guard, and the offseason transforming his body. His work paid off in spades, as Teller outperformed everyone’s expectations, except maybe his own. In 2021, Teller will have the opportunity to prove that last season was not a fluke.
Jedrick Wills will be the starter that has the most to prove in 2021. Wills, the 10th overall pick in 2020, was tasked with transitioning to left tackle after spending his entire collegiate career manning the right side of the line.
By all accounts, Wills met and exceeded expectations. However, Wills will be expected to take a sizeable step this upcoming season and become a top-tier left tackle.
Luckily for Wills, as well as the rest of the unit, Bill Callahan will be the guiding force for ‘the Union’ again this season. Callahan is widely regarded as one of the best coaches, and teachers, in the history of modern football. If the Browns do not maintain their spot as the gold standard, it will not be for a lack of coaching.
While the status of their do-it-all utility man, Chris Hubbard, is unknown at this time; the Browns are returning Nick Harris, Drew Forbes, and Blake Hance as reserves. The Browns are also bringing 5th round draft pick, James Hudson, into the fold at offensive tackle this season.
All the pieces are in place for the Browns to prove Baldinger right. Now, ‘the Union’, just needs to grab their lunchpails and hardhats and punch it for work.