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Position Preview

Browns 2021 position preview: Analyzing the O-Line

All of the starters are returning, and most of the backups are, too. There’s plenty of reasons to believe the O-Line can match their dominance from 2020.

The countdown 'til training camp is on.

In two weeks, the Browns will be back in Berea for five weeks of practices, meetings and preparations for the 2021 season — one that's filled with hype following several key additions to the defense and little changes to an offense that thrived in 2020.

We're examining each position on the roster as Day 1 of camp nears and continuing with a position that was one of the best in the NFL last year — and is returning all of their starters for 2021.

The Offensive Line

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

What we know:The Browns built arguably the best offensive line in the NFL last season — and they have an excellent shot of claiming that label again this year. All starters will return for 2021, and they fully expect to improve from the dominance they brought to the offense last season, when they paved the way for the third-best rushing attack in the league and helped quarterback Baker Mayfield become one of the least sacked quarterbacks. The group is led by Bitonio and Tretter, two of the most experienced veterans on the Browns, and received huge boosts in 2020 from Wills, Jack Conklin and a tremendous breakout season from Teller. The starters, however, were collectively healthy for only eight games last season, so the success was also a huge credit to the backups who entered and kept the line strong. Almost all of them are returning, too, so there's an overload of optimism with the Browns that their backfield will be well-protected again.

What we don't know:The only big question worth asking among the starters is about Wills: How much can he improve in his second year? Wills, the 10th overall pick from 2020, did a solid job in his transition from right to left tackle and kept the blindside of Mayfield well-protected for 16 games. The Browns believe Wills has Pro Bowl, if not All-Pro, potential as a left tackle and are confident he can take a big step toward that ceiling this season. Behind the starters, plenty of backup jobs are up for grabs, including at swing tackle, a position left vacant after the departure of Kendall Lamm. Hubbard, Hudson and free-agent acquisition Greg Senat are among the top candidates for the role and will be worth watching in training camp.

The X-Factor: It's hard to pinpoint a singular key player on an offensive line that collectively performed so well last season, but much of that success stemmed from the breakout year of Teller, so we'll insert him in this spot. A second big year from Teller, who was the top-ranked guard from Pro Football Focus, would have massive implications toward strong years from RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who broke off several big runs last season after Teller mowed through defenders with textbook pull blocks. Teller became a star last season, and the offense would love to have another pancake-filled year from him.

The biggest number: 8. We've covered the importance of this number several times this offseason when discussing the importance of the offensive line, but it's truly astounding that the starters were together for just eight full games last season and still managed to become the best O-Line unit in football. If the group remains healthy and increases that number this year, the offense will undoubtedly be in good hands.

Says it all: "All of us are in the same system for the first time in a long time. In my career, I have only had that a couple of times or maybe once. For me to have the same offense again is big. You have an understanding of the plays and what we want to do, and now, we are just really finetuning things and coming together in that sense." - Bitonio

How many were kept on the initial 53-man roster last year?: 9

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