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Browns Mailbag

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Browns Mailbag: How's the Browns' 2020 draft class doing? 

Senior Writer Andrew Gribble answers your questions every week

Week 5? How the time flies.

It's a three-question Friday to take us into the weekend.

Has Wyatt Teller been the most dominating player on the offensive line or has he just garnished so much praise because he was an unknown coming into the season? — Ryan S., Parma

That's tough to say — and we'll get to the individuals in just a moment — but the big story about this offensive line has been how well the entire unit has performed. As Joe Thomas wrote in his weekly column Thursday, the group as a whole is locked in and working in sync as well as you could have imagined considering the wild offseason they experienced. Not only did the group absorb a brand new scheme, but it's also seamlessly broken in new additions at both of the tackle spots. It's a credit to the players and also the coaching, which has been spearheaded by longtime offensive line veteran assistant Bill Callahan.

Take it from the longest tenured Browns player, who began his career on a great offensive line and finds himself in the middle of one for his seventh season.

"It's been fun," LG Joel Bitonio said. "Jed (Jedrick Wills Jr.) has come in and he is so quiet. Sometimes I wonder and I'm like, 'Does this guy know what he's doing?' Then we get out to the game, and he is perfect on his assignments and things of that nature.

"Jack (Conklin) has been to the playoffs before. He has played a lot of big games. JC (Tretter) has been here forever, and Wyatt is having a heck of year, as well, so far. It has just been fun. You see a good block on film and you are like, 'All right, I want to get my good block in now or my knockdown or something of that nature.' I think we feed off each other in that sense where it is we are competitive as a group but we just want to keep improving."

With the wins and the great tape come national attention, and the Browns have gotten plenty of it in recent days and weeks. Teller certainly has received his fair share. Pro Football Focus has him as one of the highest graded players, regardless of position, through the first four weeks and placed him on its first quarter All-Pro team. Conklin was a first-team selection, too, while Tretter earned a second-team nod. Bitonio, a Pro Bowler, has been his usual self and Wills has been solid as a rookie.

This has been a fun group to watch, and the biggest reason why is how well they've played together as a cohesive unit.

Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Indianapolis Colts

With Nick Chubb out due to injury, will we see our fullback getting gameday play? — John Q., Centralia, Washington

Andy Janovich has been a regular fixture in the lineup, and Chubb's status probably won't affect how much he sees the field. After a small amount of playing time in the season opener — when the Browns were forced to throw for most of the second half — Janovich has played 22, 17 and 24 snaps, respectively, in the past three games. He's caught two passes for 13 yards and has yet to carry it. That's not why he's on the field, though.

"It is a different feel when he is out there," coach Kevin Stefanski said in a recent interview.

The Browns' turnaround from the dark side is like a miracle with young players really impressing. Your thoughts Andrew? — Rob M., Charleston, West Virginia

I'm just going to focus on the "young players" part of your question, and I'll say I've been mightily impressed thus far with the performance of the team's rookies — the smallest group in years, especially after Grant Delpit’s season-ending injury. 

As mentioned above, Wills has been rock solid at left tackle and is a key contributor to why the Browns' offensive line has performed so well. Third-round DT Jordan Elliott has seen a steady amount of playing time and, in the event Larry Ogunjobi can't play Sunday, could see even more. Fellow third-rounder Jacob Phillips made a big impact in his return to action last week against the Cowboys when he was at the center of three straight plays that ultimately forced a Dallas punt. Fourth-rounder Harrison Bryant caught his first touchdown Week 3, has seven catches on the year and has looked like anything but a rookie as the team's No. 2 tight end. Fifth-rounder Nick Harris impressed during training camp while filling in for Tretter and has been active for every game. Sixth-rounder Donovan Peoples-Jones took on a lot of responsibilities in his NFL debut this past week against the Cowboys, serving as the No. 3 receiver, punt returner and kick returner. All six of the players mentioned were active and counted upon for last week's game.

These players have been forced to grow up fast and break into the NFL with less on-field practice time than any class has had in a long, long time. Cleveland's rookies have handled it well, and many of them will only see more and more opportunities to impress.

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