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Off-Season Position Analysis

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Browns 2020 position preview: Analyzing the offensive tackles

The virtual work is almost complete and training camp will be here sooner than we know it.

From now until then, we're going to devote some time to the different position groups that dot the Browns' roster. There's been plenty of change since the Browns last took the field, and we're examining all of it with an eye toward the 2020 season.

We're kicking things off with the position that generated some of the biggest offseason headlines for the Browns both in free agency and in the draft.

The Offensive Tackles

Check out photos of the offensive tackles the Browns will be bringing into training camp

What we know: The Browns addressed one of their biggest areas of weakness in 2019 with some of their biggest offseason resources. At the start of the new league year, the Browns signed Conklin, who thrived at the position for four seasons with the Titans, to a lucrative deal to shore up the right side of the offensive line. One month later in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Browns used their first-round selection on Jedrick Wills Jr., taking the second tackle off the board in one of the best classes at the position in recent memory. Wills played exclusively on the right side at Alabama, largely because his quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, was left-handed. He's been focused on making the transition ever since he started preparing for the draft, and Browns coaches are confident he can make the switch in smooth fashion. With those spots filled, Cleveland enters training camp in the unique position of having two projected reserves at tackle — Hubbard and Lamm — who have years of NFL starting experience.

What we don't know: This offseason has been a unique one, to say the least, and it's affecting everyone around the NFL in equally challenging fashion. That challenge, though, amplifies a bit for a player like Wills, a rookie who is not only expected to make an immediate impact, but also do it from a position he's never played. The Browns are confident in Wills' ability to make the switch, and they have the perfect offensive line coach (Bill Callahan) to help him along. Wills has also tapped into some of the best resources outside of the current team, as he's already taken up future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas on an offer to discuss the nuances of the position. It's just not going to be fully clear how well Wills adapts to the switch until he's able to get on the field with the rest of his teammates — something he and the rest of the NFL simply weren't able to do during the spring. 

X-Factor: Hubbard - The veteran gives the Browns some real flexibility from a depth perspective along the offensive line. It's quite a luxury to have someone with starting experience in the "sixth man" role on the offensive line, and Hubbard brings nearly three years' worth to the table. He's also attacked the role with a mindset Callahan likes to see. "I think he is a really good football player," Callahan said. "I know his heart is in it. He has swing-ability and he could also play a jumbo tight end. Although, we have a lot of those guys right now. I really like Chris. I think he has a lot of value and a lot of upside. He will definitely help us at some point. You can never have enough of those guys."

The biggest number: 84.6 - That's Conklin's PFF grade on wide-zone run-blocking over the past two years, a mark that ranks third in the NFL during that span. The Browns, of course, will look to do plenty of wide-zone running in 2020 with their dynamic tandem at running back, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Says it all: "When you watch a player on film, I think in a couple of ways your takeaways are 'Well, this guy is a player. He is solid. He has athletic ability.' With Jedrick, it was a little bit different in that you can feel him on film. He came alive on tape, and you got excited about what he was doing throughout the course of the game. A lot of times, people talk about make-up and they talk about characters and all these other things, which are great – which he does have – but he has these intangibles that show up in tangible ways on film. You watch him finish. You watch the detail, the technique. You watch his consistent effort and his stamina throughout the course of the game from start to finish. I think that was the appeal for me." — Callahan

How many were kept on the initial 53-man roster last year?: 3

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