The only thing Austin Corbett did during a decorated career at Nevada was play left tackle.
The Browns believe Corbett, whom they selected with the first pick of Friday’s second round, has the potential to do a little bit of everything on an offensive line that has enhanced its versatility throughout the offseason.
“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 Alonzo Highsmith, Cleveland’s new vice president of player personnel. “I think one of the best things that you want to do is add good football players to your team. It is a great problem to have, a guy that can play a bunch of different positions.”
After a redshirt freshman season, Corbett took over the reins for Joel Bitonio, who he’ll join in Cleveland, at left tackle and never looked back. He ended his career with 48 consecutive starts at the position before embarking on a pre-draft process that focused heavily on a likely transition to the interior of the offensive line.
It was a path Bitonio walked, too, and Corbett carried the same, positive attitude about it.
“I am definitely a tackle player,” Corbett said. “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. Really, whatever the Browns want me to do, I am going to do for them. I am just super excited to get into Cleveland.”
Corbett’s come a long way from his freshman year, when he only earned walk-on status at Nevada after e-mailing one of the team’s position coaches. According to a report in the Reno Gazette Journal, Corbett, who battled a knee injury in high school that derailed his pursuit of scholarship offers, sent the e-mail to assistant coach Ken Wilson, who lived in Corbett’s hometown of Sparks. Corbett knew Wilson’s kids and had nothing to lose.
Corbett’s message was convincing enough, and he never looked back. He piled on good weight to what was a 240-pound frame during a redshirt year and proved ready to fill Bitonio’s shoes in 2015.
“It is just a difference in how you have to go about yourself when you are a walk-on ... There are things you have to do to that kids on scholarships do not,” Corbett said. “There is nothing wrong with that. Just having that mentality to carry on and that mentality is what it takes to be the great football player.”
Corbett joins a Browns offensive line full of good players that is looking to replace a great one in Joe Thomas, the future Hall of Fame left tackle who retired last month. Shon Coleman and a slew of others are slated to compete at the spot, and Corbett could very well join them. He could also give the team some options at other positions. It will be up to the Browns coaches to find Corbett’s best possible spot, Highsmith and assistant general manager Eliot Wolf said.
“You look at the contracts throughout the league, the tackles are the ones that are getting paid more and getting picked higher,” Wolf said. “If Austin is able to be the left tackle, it would be great.
“We have some options there.”