You hear that? You see that?
Yes, it's the FINAL pre-training camp edition of the Browns Mailbag! We thank all of you who have kept the questions flowing throughout an incredibly busy offseason.
Now, let's play some football, all right?
Excellent prospects on the offensive line include James Hudson III, Wyatt Teller, Drew Forbes, Blake Hance, Michael Dunn, and Nick Harris. Teller could be the leader of the future? — Rob M., Charleston, West Virginia
You just rattled off a bunch of young, talented players who will be — with the exception of Teller, who is penciled in at right guard — locked into a fierce competition for some of the reserve spots on Cleveland's offensive line. The loss of Kendall Lamm shouldn't be overlooked; He was an incredibly reliable, versatile player who came up big for the Browns on multiple occasions last season.
One of those spots would appear to be in the grasp of Chris Hubbard, who was Cleveland's invaluable sixth man in 2020 but had his season come to an unfortunate end when he suffered a serious knee injury Week 15 against the Giants. But the Browns will need more than six, and players such as Harris, Forbes, Dunn and Hance will be looking to do whatever they can to show off their versatility and show why they can be counted upon in the event a starter or two goes down with an injury. That happened on plenty of occasions in 2020, more than the Browns would ever hope to occur in 2021. Cleveland's starting unit completed just eight games together, and that includes the playoffs, when it faced the Steelers without Joel Bitonio and was without Jedrick Wills Jr. for almost all of the AFC Divisional Round game at Kansas City after he suffered an early injury.
Hance and Dunn proved they could handle the big stage when they filled in for Joel Bitonio during the AFC Wild Card victory over the Steelers. Harris is a promising young center who showed he can also play guard when he was called upon to replace Hubbard. Forbes, a former sixth-round pick who opted out of last season, showed a lot of promise during his rookie season and can play multiple positions. There's also Greg Senat, a free agent signing who carries plenty of upside as a tackle.
Hudson, in particular, carries plenty of intrigue as he enters his rookie season. The fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati was a late bloomer in college, as he began his career as a defensive lineman before switching to the offense and then transferring to play for the Bearcats before finally showing what kind of damage he can do on the football field. He's raw and carries plenty of upside, and the Browns are looking to get him ready in the event he's needed to play significant snaps. He lined up at both left and right tackle during OTAs, another sign the Browns are looking to compile an offensive line depth chart that is stocked with versatility.
"I can't wait to just be around those guys, be with the coach and everything and just learn," Hudson said. "I want to be like a sponge and just soak up as much knowledge as I can and as much info as I can so that when my jersey is called, I am ready and can help the team win."
With the amount of talent that the Browns have at wide receivers and tight ends, do you think Browns will still be run-heavy and do you think because the Browns have a lot of talent at wide receivers and tight ends that it will help the running game? — David W., Las Vegas
Yes and yes. The term "run heavy" is a subjective one, but there's no reason to believe the Browns will do LESS with one of the NFL's best RB tandems in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt running behind one of the league's best offensive lines. Does that mean the Browns will have the same run-pass splits as they did last year? No, and game flow and circumstances have a lot to do with it. But this rushing attack isn't going anywhere. If anything, the Browns are looking for ways to get Hunt and Chubb more involved because of their aforementioned unique set of skills.
"I think we felt very comfortable with how we used them last year – kind of the one-two counter punches and keeping them both fresh as long as we could into each game," Van Pelt said. "However, you want to put your most-talented players on the field, and Kareem is definitely deserving of getting playing time, along with Nick in certain packages. Those are things we have looked at in the offseason and will continue to grow."
I am fascinated to see how good Grant Delpit will be post his terrible injury last year. The buzz after he was picked and the skill set and leadership he showed at LSU were amazing! As a UK Browns fan, I am really hoping he has a standout second-year 'rookie' season. How is he looking at the moment? — Mark L., Reading, U.K.
Delpit looked to be back to his old self during mandatory minicamp, and the expectation is he'll be even more comfortable moving, cutting and hitting when training camp opens next week. The Browns are being careful and responsible as Delpit works his way back to full strength following last year's gut wrenching Achilles injury, but he's clearly raring to go.
"It's crazy how it happened, but I'm glad it happened while I'm young and still have my whole career ahead of me," Delpit said in May. "It was an eye-opening experience for me, but I've done a lot to come back."
Delpit and Greedy Williams both should give the Browns a boost on defense after missing all of 2020. Defensive coordinator Joe Woods appeared to be beyond excited about their respective returns at minicamp but stressed caution because the games that count are still months away.
"When you look at those guys, they have size, length and speed," Woods said. "Grant is versatile. To have those guys out there, we just want to be careful. You get them back out there and you are excited, you do not want to put too much on them. The training staff had a great plan for those guys, and we have brought them along slowly, but they were out there. You get excited because you see what you are capable of doing and the packages you can create so I look forward to getting them back in training camp when I think they will be full speed."