Is James Hudson the future at right tackle for the Browns?

Browns, James Hudson III. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, James Hudson III. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

Young offensive linemen can take a while to develop. Is year two for James Hudson the year he takes a big step for the Browns?

An elite offensive line has been something the Cleveland Browns have been used to for the last few years. Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio lead the way with right tackle Jack Conklin playing at an All-Pro level when he’s healthy.

The problem with that is he isn’t always healthy. Conklin suffered a knee injury in 2021 and is still recovering from it. He couldn’t play this past Sunday against the Panthers, so second-year Cincinnati product James Hudson had to step up.

In 2021, Hudson was thrown into the fire a bit. He definitely wasn’t ready to start, but in the NFL sometimes there is no choice. It was a rough rookie year with some occasional flashes of good instincts and footwork. He finished with a 57.3 PFF grade and gave up 3 sacks. So, not god awful but still plenty of room to improve.

There was some expected apprehension about him starting the season opener on Sunday, but he answered the call and played very well, finishing with a 76.0 PFF grade and he was the 11th-ranked tackle in the NFL. A very nice improvement from what we saw in 2021

Is James Hudson the future Browns RT?

There’s no question that Jack Conklin’s time with the Browns is coming to an end — even though he wants an extension. He’s been great, but between injuries and age, Andrew Berry is going to want to move off of him soon.

Many people may be wondering if Hudson can step into that role fully next season. It’s unclear if he is the future at this point, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited about his development. He has the best offensive line coach in the NFL in Bill Callahan coaching him up, plus he is surrounded with All-Pro talent that can assist in development as well.

If we’re just going off of his performance against the Carolina Panthers, the answer would be yes, he is the future. What needs to be seen now is him playing consistently at a high level. Stacking a lot of positive games will go a long way with his confidence and development of his skillset. If Conklin is out for a few more games and Hudson plays well in those, the coaching staff will feel very well about him being the full-time starter in a year.

There should be more opportunities for Hudson throughout the season, but if you are a Browns fan, being excited about him is very warranted. If he can step into Conklin’s place next year, this offensive line really won’t miss a beat. It is so important for those big guys to play consistently together for years to build chemistry. While a lot still needs to be proved, betting that Hudson will be a part of the future in Cleveland would be a smart bet.

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