Browns stock report: Deshaun Watson rises while Denzel Ward falls

Browns, Jedrick Wills. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Jedrick Wills. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /
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Browns, James Hudson
Browns, James Hudson. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Browns Stock Up 2: Tackle James Hudson

Cleveland’s offensive line was a problem in Week 18 as they allowed seven sacks on Deshaun Watson. No matter how you slice it, this was a horrible performance.

You can blame one or two sacks on Watson holding the ball too long, but there were other times when they should have given up a sack but chose to commit illegal holding rather than get their most valuable commodity creamed by the likes of Cameron Heyward or Alex Highsmith.

Highsmith feasted on the Browns, adding 2.5 sacks and eight total tackles. Heyward, who will be a ripe 34 years old next season, is simply not acting his age, destroying everything in his path, with two sacks and also eight tackles like his buddy Highsmith. Jedrick Wills saved an additional sack by committing an obvious holding penalty on Heyward. Pocic and Hudson were also caught for less obvious infractions.

On the right side, James Hudson started in place of Jack Conklin, who was down with an injured ankle. Hudson wasn’t particularly magnificent, but he did at least slow down T.J. Watt, who was so destructive in last year’s game in Pittsburgh.

Hudson may not have been a superstar, but he showed great improvement from 2021 to 2022, whereas the rest of the line had a very tough time with pass blocking.

We have to look for a positive silver lining, however, and that has to be the improvement of Hudson’s play. It would not be a shock to see Hudson challenge for a starting job on the left side next season. Wills was a highly regarded first-round draft pick, but it was clear based on one game that Hudson played better.