6 Cleveland Browns benchwarmers who may emerge in 2023

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

2. Drew Forbes, OL

It seems like Drew Forbes has been around forever, but not so. He was drafted in 2019. The Browns couldn’t make up their minds whether they wanted him to play tackle or guard.

This was actually a stupid Browns debate. They had a gaping hole left by the retirement of Hall of Famer Joe Thomas. Forbes had played tackle at Southeast Missouri State. Now, Southeast Missouri State is not in the NFL, nor is it among the Power Five conferences.

The scouts were unanimously telling the Browns that the 6-foot-5, 308-pound Forbes was better suited to play guard. So, of course, Freddie Kitchens was indecisive about where to play him, ultimately giving him a shot at right guard, which was curtailed by a season-ending knee injury.

In 2020 he elected to opt out of the season due to Covid, which means that his contract was extended another year. That’s why he is still under contract to the Browns in 2023, which would normally have been his fifth season. In 2021, he managed to get injured yet again.

In 2022, the Browns used him as a fullback at times, and he also went in as an extra offensive lineman. At one point, they waived him, and he was claimed by the Detroit Lions, where he played one game on special teams. Then they waived him, and the Browns claimed him again.

He has played center in the preseason, so it is very possible for him to be in the mix with Dawson Deaton and Nick Harris for the starting center position. If the Browns were high on him in 2019 as a potential starter, and he was injured twice and is now healthy, what has really changed?

Okay, there is some concern about his crashworthiness. However, Harris and Deaton also missed the entire season last year, so that seems to be true for all three center candidates.

This will be Forbes’ fourth training camp. He’s more experienced and physically mature than as a rookie. He should be at his absolute peak as an athlete. The mentality of the NFL general manager is to gamble on an unknown 21-year-old rookie. However, there is a certain logic to going with a guy who was drafted in the sixth round, never played badly in pre-season, and is in his fifth year.