In seven weeks, the new assemblage of Browns players and coaches are expected to return to Berea for their first team reps and on-field practices of 2020.
We've all been waiting for the start of training camp, which will also be the first time rookies hit the field and jostle for top spots on the depth chart. Some rookies will fight for a starting role in Week 1, while others could be stashed in backup roles and carry starting prospects for the future. We'll just be happy that football is back in Cleveland.
Over the next few weeks, we're breaking down each rookie from the Browns 2020 draft class — with the help of The Athletic's Dane Brugler — and diving into how they might fit into next season's plans.
First up: Jedrick Wills Jr.
Name: Jedrick Wills Jr.
Weight: 312 lbs
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Draft selection: 1st round (10th overall)
The Browns have selected Jedrick Wills Jr. in the 2020 NFL Draft.
How does he play? Wills' footwork, hip movement and hand placement made him an impenetrable blocker at Alabama, where he only allowed only one sack in 39 games and guarded the blindside of Tua Tagovailoa. His aggression and explosiveness at the line of scrimmage could turn him into an All-Pro tackle in Cleveland, and if he can eliminate some pre-snap communication issues — he had five false-start penalties in 2019 — then he should be a force in a revamped offensive line.
Brugler's breakdown: Wills was already a stout run blocker each year at Alabama and was capable of delivering big-time blocks downfield against linebackers and defensive backs. His pass protection skills, however, didn't pick up until last season.
Brugler, who ranked Wills as his top linemen in his annual pre-draft guide, believes Wills showed quick development in lowering his pad level during passing plays. Midway through the season, Wills honed in on proper timing for when to initiate contact against edge rushers and how to avoid losing control of pocket protection on inside moves. Brugler believes Wills beefed up his draft status to an early first-round pick when he mastered those skills.
"He understands the inner workings of his body and how to use everything in unison to combat whatever is thrown at him," Brugler said. "We're still talking about a young player. He's a player still coming into his own, but I think you have to be encouraged by the week-to-week improvement we saw this year."
How will he fit? It'll all depend on how Wills fares in a switch to left tackle. He played only at right tackle with the Crimson Tide, but the Browns believe his raw talent and athleticism will lead to a smooth transition to the left side.
With Bill Callahan, Cleveland has the perfect offensive line coach for the switch — Callahan has assisted several linemen in position changes, including seven-time Pro Bowler Tyron Smith, who switched from right to left tackle under Callahan in 2012.
If Wills' transition is seamless, Baker Mayfield won't have to worry much about pressure from his blindside, and the Browns could hold one of the top offensive lines in the AFC.