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Browns 2016 training camp position breakdown: OL

We're less than two weeks out from the Browns' first training camp under head coach Hue Jackson.

As such, we'll dive deep into each position group and analyze what we'll be looking for when practice resumes July 29.

After looking at the various skill positions, we're diving into what Hue Jackson called the "backbone" of Cleveland's offense: the offensive line.


The cast

Joe Thomas

John Greco

Joel Bitonio

Alvin Bailey

Cameron Erving

Austin Pasztor

Michael Bowie

Garth Gerhart

Dan France

Conor Boffeli

Kaleb Johnson

Erle Ladson

Shon Coleman

Spencer Drango

Mike Matthews

What happened at OTAs? Following the free agency departures of two starters — center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz — we saw a new-look offensive line slowly start to come into form during offseason workouts. Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, left guard Joel Bitonio (whose ankle seems to be fully healthy) and right guard John Greco seemed to lead the group as it looks for two additional starters. And while that remains a fluid situation, 2015 first-round draft pick Cameron Erving took a bunch of reps as first-team center while former Seahawks backup tackle Alvin Bailey and rookie Spencer Drango look to be candidates for the right tackle position. Shon Coleman, the third-round pick from Auburn who spent OTAs/minicamp nursing a knee injury, should also be firmly in the mix to compete for the job.   

Under the radar: A pair of rookies stand out: Drango was an All-American at Baylor and arguably put together one of the best collegiate careers of any offensive linemen coming out of the draft. Mike Matthews, the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, was a star at Texas A&M and could give Cleveland some depth at center.  

Variables to consider: The biggest thing here is finding starters at center and right tackle. As mentioned above, Erving and Bailey took most of the first-team reps during offseason workouts but that doesn't mean anything's set in stone. Not to mention, competition for those positions also helps the Browns see what kind of depth they have on the offensive line.

Quote to note: "They've gotten better. They really have. They're battling. Joe (Thomas) is the leader of that group, and he's done a great job. I told them in front of him, we're going to get on his back and we're going to ride it. We're going to ride that group to wherever we are going to go. They're kind of the backbone of how we do things. The quarterback drives the train, but the line is what makes us go. I think the group is starting to take its shape and form. We have some young players that are very interesting to me. I know Spencer Drango shows up every day. He's very competitive and I like him. I think he's getting better. I think Cam (Erving) has really improved. I think the rest of the veteran guys of that group – (John) Greco, (Joel) Bitonio – I think Bitonio has the potential to be one of the better players in this league, bar none. It's a good group. We still have got to put ourselves in a position to do the things that we want to do as an offensive football team, but there is some talent there. We just have to keep molding it and getting it the way we want it to be." — Hue Jackson in June when asked about the growth of the OL How many were kept last year?: Six on the 53-man roster ​

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