The Cleveland Browns needed depth at center. The only question was would they get it in the draft or via free agency.
The Cleveland Browns needed to address the center position. After the release of J.C. Tretter, most fans and media assumed the Browns would simply hand the center job over to center Nick Harris.
But on Tuesday, the Browns signed former Seattle Seahawks center Ethan Pocic.
Pocic was brought in as depth and will be allowed to compete for the starting center position. As I stated in a previous article, there is reason to be concerned with having only Nick Harris as a dedicated center on the roster. It was imperative the Browns brought someone in at the center position.
The only real question facing the Browns was if they were comfortable with Harris as the only veteran center on the roster. Or did they want to address the position in the draft. They decided to bring in a veteran center to create competition and provide stability at the position.
The Browns don’t simply hand people jobs. They make players get their jobs the old-fashioned way. They make them earn it. If Nick Harris wants to be the starting center for the Browns, he will have to earn the position by beating out Pocic.
Ethan Pocic was a second-round choice in the 2017 draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Coming out of college there were questions about his ability to pass protect. At the time, he was a converted tackle to guard who was then again converted to center. The Seahawks took a chance on him due to his fit in their play-action outside zone scheme. The gamble was that they could teach him to pass block.
If Pro Football Focus grades mean anything, Pocic has been an average to below-average player since 2017. True to form, he was a much better run blocker than pass blocker last season. In fact, his pass blocking at best has been average with his run blocking going above average for the first time last season.
This means Pocic is who I thought he would be back in 2017. He is just a guy. But ‘just a guy’ is exactly what the Browns are looking for if they want interior offensive line help.
This move does not signal a departure from using Harris as the starting center. It is simply a backup plan in case Harris is injured or his play falls off a cliff.
This move also does not preclude the Browns from taking an interior offensive lineman in the draft. This move simply means they do not have to take one. If an upgrade at center is available and they are the best player on the board, then the Browns should absolutely upgrade the position.