5 positions Cleveland Browns don’t need to target in 2022 NFL Draft

Aug 17, 2020; Berea, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns center Nick Harris (53) during training camp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 17, 2020; Berea, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns center Nick Harris (53) during training camp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Browns Nick Harris
Dec 20, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns center Nick Harris (53) during warmups before the game Las Vegas Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Browns position not needed in draft No. 3: Center

Do the Cleveland Browns need to draft a replacement for J.C. Tretter? Tretter was a star in Cleveland, missing just one game for Covid and otherwise never missing a snap. He never made a Pro Bowl, but he was judged to be a near-miss the past few years.

Yet, the Browns cut him as a way of commemorating his 31st birthday in February, mainly because they wanted to save $8.2 million against the salary cap.

But the Browns have a few replacements ready. For one, they drafted Nick Harris two seasons ago to replace Tretter and they also signed veteran Ethan Pocic for a one-year deal worth $1.2 million.

Pocic has started 40 games in the NFL and is still only 26 years old. They also saw Michael Dunn and Blake Hance play center in the preseason last year and they did just fine. They also re-signed coach-on-the-field Chris Hubbard, who has played all five positions on the offensive line.

They have Hjalte Froholdt, a four-year man from Denmark who played guard and center in college and was a fourth-round draft pick by Bill Belichick. He has 14 games worth of experience in the NFL, though all of his snaps have been at guard in the NFL. Lastly, there is enigmatic Drew Forbes, who has been working out at center for two years but has not been healthy after being drafted in the sixth round in 2019.

Forbes has looked good in the preseason — at guard at least — but wound up on IR in 2021. Let’s add that up — that’s seven credible candidates to play center. I don’t know about you, but for this fan, it seems like that should be enough to cover it.

Needless to say, the same names also dissuade the front office from drafting candidates to play guard. There, it’s more obvious since they have Pro Bowlers Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller headlining, as mentioned above. Tackle is not in such great shape with Jack Conklin coming back from serious knee and elbow injuries, and Jedrick Wills displaying great talent but not great skill at this point in his development.

James Hudson played well at times but was overmatched against Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt. Offensive linemen are hard to evaluate because they are never at 100 percent, but what we saw suggested that there needs to be a major improvement. Hubbard can play tackle, but he is a much better guard than tackle. Similarly, Hance, Dunn, and Forbes have tried to play on the outside, but they all look like, well, guards trying to play tackle. Thus, there is definitely room for a hotshot tackle to make the squad this summer.

As fans, we are hoping and praying for a 100 percent recovery for Jack Conklin. That is everybody’s Plan A. We have heard nothing but good things about Conklin as a person and a competitor and thus have nothing but well wishes and positive prayers for his recovery and ongoing rehab.

The Browns would probably be willing to make a trade in which they would provide a center/guard in exchange for a day three draft pick or perhaps even a 2023 draft pick, just because there are too many athletes at this position this season. Drafting a late-round tackle is harder to do than drafting a guard in the same position, and similarly, it would be generally hard to trade a guard for a tackle and get quality in return. It is not impossible, however.

Bottom line is that there are seven players fighting for the starting center job, and of the six who don’t make it, all six can also play guard. Okay, Browns, so let’s try not to draft players at these positions, shall we?