The Browns have named rookie Desmond Harrison their starting left tackle, ending months of uncertainty at the position.
Head coach Hue Jackson made the announcement Friday as Cleveland finalized its offensive line days before hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener.
“He’s talented enough, I think this is hopefully going to be our lineup as we travel through the season,” Jackson said. “I feel good about those five guys, I think this is going to give us the best chance for success.”
Harrison, an undrafted free agent out of West Georgia, effectively becomes the heir to Joe Thomas, the perennial Pro Bowler who retired in March following 11 seasons. Veteran Joel Bitonio, whom the Browns slid over to left tackle earlier in training camp, will move back to left guard, where he’s started the past four seasons.
Jackson said Harrison flashed potential in the spring before a toe injury sidelined him for most of camp. He appeared in three preseason games and started the team’s last one against the Lions.
“When he came here, we were very excited,” Jackson said. “There were some things he did in OTAs and we could see it.”
In the pre-draft process, Harrison (6-foot-6, 295 pounds) was described as a “boom or bust” prospect with elite length athleticism whose stock fell because of inconsistent play and off-field concerns. After a pair of suspensions, Harrison transferred from Texas to West Georgia, where he played 10 games in 2017 and earned first-team AFCA All-American.
Jackson said Harrison has earned a starting job for his work both on and off the field. He joins Bitonio, center JC Tretter, right guard Kevin Zeitler and right tackle Chris Hubbard on an offensive line that’ll block for new starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Cleveland opens its 2018 seasons against Pittsburgh on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.