6 Cleveland Browns benchwarmers who may emerge in 2023

Browns, Thomas Graham Jr.
Browns, Thomas Graham Jr. /
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Browns, Dawson Deaton
Browns, Dawson Deaton. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Dawson Deaton, C

Dawson Deaton is a relative unknown, but we give him a puncher’s chance to overtake Nick Harris in training camp. Ethan Pocic was a great surprise of the 2022 season, but the surprise of the 2023 offseason could come when Andrew Berry finds out how much Pocic is now worth in the free agent market.

Remember also that while the Dawg Pound is chattering about signing this free agent and that free agent, the team is currently way over budget, and ain’t nobody getting signed without major restructuring of a few expensive contracts. Hence, the center position may be open.

Harris is nominally at the top of the depth chart and has played well in spot duty for the club in the past three years, but he is definitely very undersized (6-foot-1 and 293 pounds) and unproven. There’s no reason to believe he is an NFL starter without question.

Deaton, on the other hand, looks like a standard-issue NFL center. He started 35 games for the Texas Tech Red Raiders, and at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, size is less of a concern. He was Second-Team All-Big 12, as selected by the conference coaches. We also like — especially at the center position — that he was First-Team Academic All-Big 12. You can be a dumb offensive lineman, but not at the center position, please.

Funny things happen to offensive linemen under the tutelage of Sensei Bill Callahan, with Hall of Fame Grasshopper Joe Thomas serving as his assistant in summer camp. If you have watched them teach their pupils, they are almost like a martial arts school, teaching how to strike defensive linemen with techniques referred to as the pendulum strike or pedestal block, designed to disrupt the balance of the opponent, getting the opponent to turn or fall down, just like a judo player does.

If you check out the illustration, that may be what Deaton and Ben Petrula are working on. Wyatt Teller has become a master of the pancake block using techniques he has learned with the Browns. Pocic has also thrived in this system. Hjalte Froholdt, the fourth-string center last season, was not a center at all, having played only a few games in college. He struggled at first but eventually seemed to get the hang of it.

If the Browns cannot re-sign Pocic, there is a real chance that Dawson Deaton becomes the next starting center of the Cleveland Browns. But wait, there is yet another candidate in Drew Forbes. Drew Forbes? Yes, Drew Forbes.