Why couldn’t Cleveland Browns develop Austin Corbett?
As for Austin Corbett, he was regarded as a total flop by the Browns. John Dorsey selected him as the first pick of the second round, drafted ahead of Nick Chubb in 2018. Corbett came out of the University of Nevada, the same distinguished institution attended by Joel Bitonio. That cannot be all bad, right?
Nevertheless, everyone hated the pick, because Corbett was a tackle in college, but a little small for that position in the NFL, and Combine freak Will Hernandez was still on the draft board. Hernandez had bench-pressed the entire gymnasium at the Combine and made the earth tremble when he ran the 40-yard dash. Moreover, the Browns were really looking for a true tackle rather than a guard.
Incidentally, Hernandez also plays guard in the NFL now and is ranked well below Corbett, so Dorsey was correct in not drafting him.
The Browns tried Corbett at tackle and soon gave up on that. They moved him to guard for a while and then decided to convert him to center and finally traded him to the Rams in 2019 for a fifth-round pick.
That same season, Corbett moved into the starting lineup and hasn’t budged from it since. Since coming to the Rams, he has started 40 consecutive games, been on the field for 99 percent of the team’s snaps. He will be a free agent for 2022, and for what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus projects him at the $9.25 M/year level for four years.
Why couldn’t the Browns develop him?
Cleveland had great success with Bob Wylie as offensive line coach in 2018, then fired him on the grounds that he was suspected of being a Hue Jackson loyalist. James Campen replaced him. He is a respected coach, but for whatever reason, Corbett did not blossom under his tutelage.
Alternatively, the problem might have been that they had a guy named Wyatt Teller that Corbett just was not going to beat out for second string. Teller wound up becoming the top dog soon thereafter, sending starter Eric Kush to the bench.