Browns guard Joel Bitonio showed Austin Corbett the ropes back when they were teammates at Nevada.
Now reunited in Cleveland, Corbett — the 33rd overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft — is looking forward to learning some more from one of his favorite players.
“He was a senior my redshirt year at Nevada,” said Corbett, who walked on to the program in 2013. “As a walk-on, I was just watching him, trying to look at every single thing he did because I knew the type of player he was and the type of person he was.”
Corbett, who started 48 games at left tackle after Bitonio was drafted by the Browns in 2014, gives Cleveland a versatile, tough player on an offensive line still trying to figure how to best replace future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thomas. Though Corbett was exclusively a tackle with the Wolf Pack, some draft analysts project him as an athletic guard or even center at the next level. Over the coming weeks and months, the Browns will get a better idea of where Corbett best fits.
“I see him as a good football player, very multi-faceted. He can do a lot of things. There is no doubt that he could probably play center for you,” said vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith. “I think one of the best things that you want to do is add good football players to your team. It’s a great problem to have, a guy that can play a bunch of different positions.”
Corbett, to be certain, views himself as a tackle but will play wherever he’s needed. “I’m definitely a tackle player. I spent the last four years there, but at the Senior Bowl, again, that was my chance to move inside and I felt really comfortable at those positions as well,” he said. “Really, whatever the Browns want me to do, I’m going to do for them. I’m just super excited to get into Cleveland.”
Corbett learned a lot of what he knows from Bitonio, who has emerged as one of the league’s best interior offensive linemen.
“He just understands defensive concepts and can just see these things and anticipate, which makes a great football player,” he said.
“Then it comes down to his physicality, as well. Moving up in the middle, you got some big dudes up in the NFL, and you have to have a little bit of nasty to you. Playing offensive line, you have got to be a little messed up in the mind, honestly because it is a car crash every play. That is how he played at Nevada, and that is what I saw. He set the standard for me.”
Corbett and the Browns’ 2018 draft class — a group that includes quarterback Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward, the No. 1 and No. 4 picks, respectively — will report for minicamp later this week. Not too long after that, Corbett might have a chance to play alongside Bitonio once again.
“It’s going to be crazy to play next to him. He’s somebody I have been watching for four years now and everything he has done there in Cleveland,” Corbett said. “I’m just super excited to be able to get next to him and continue to learn from him.”