4 Browns who could earn a roster spot in preseason Week 3
No. 2: Hjalte Froholdt
Just as we knew that Brock Hoffman could play center and were surprised to find he could play guard, a second surprise was find that guard Hjalte Froholt can play center. Could the Browns have a second surprise offensive lineman?
The answer could be yes.
Besides the five starters, the only two backups that have guaranteed money are tackles Chris Hubbard and last year’s fourth round draft pick, James Hudson III. Last year’s backup guards were Blake Hance and Michael Dunn, both of whom are good enough to play in the NFL. However, they are probably not good enough to be considered for starting duty in 2023 and beyond.
If the Browns had a true starting offensive lineman down the road, they might consider the unpleasant (but cap space generating) task of trading an offensive lineman, either Wyatt Teller or Joel Bitonio, in 2023 or 2024. The reason is that they have several major contracts that will weigh down the cap in the future. Cleveland leads the NFL in salary cap space in 2022, but are last in the NFL in 2023 and 2024 because of all the escalating deals they have in place.
Enter Froholdt, the transplanted Danish strongman and former Arkansas Razorback who was drafted by New England in the fourth round. He appeared in eight games for New England in his career, and last year he appeared in six games for the Browns. He took 61 snaps for New England in 2020, about the equivalent of a full game, and played both left guard and right guard. Take this with a massive grain of salt, but Pro Football Focus graded him at 70.9, which corresponds to a much better than average player.
Froholdt has emerged as a candidate at center this summer now that Nick Harris and Dawson Deaton have gone down with injuries. He has taken 40 snaps and has performed well, especially in pass blocking. Now that the Browns have invested $230 million in a quarterback, the linemen had better be good at pass blocking, and Froholdt has been a stud so far. By proving he can play two positions, he has increased his value greatly.
One more game that shows he plays both guard and center could put him over the top. Both Hance and Dunn have done the same thing for the Browns, but Froholdt has been getting the extra playing time and has outperformed his teammates and can edge out his competition.
Cleveland has the opportunity to have the entire nation of Denmark on their side if they keep Froholdt. They need all the friends they can get, so they had better not blow this opportunity. The last Danish-born NFL player was kicker Morten Andersen, so Froholdt is actually a very big deal. Let’s get the Danish fan base into the Dawg Pound. Forget about the Minnesota fans, how about some actual Vikings on our side? Guds hjaelp, Folkets kaerlighed, Danmarks styrke (God’s help, people’s love, Denmark’s strength)! Or, in Cleveland vernacular, Denmark rocks!
One more thing, before leaving the offensive line, if they go with 10 linemen instead of the usual nine, it would not be a shock if they keep David Moore, a 6-foot-4, 320 pound kid from Grambling who beat up his counterpart from Philly last week. If he can do it again this week, they might have to keep him.