Drew Forbes doesn’t know for sure if he’s making a full-time transition to guard, but he won’t be disappointed if that’s the case.
Forbes, a Browns sixth-round selection out of Southeast Missouri State, played tackle throughout his entire high school and college career and received a handful of opportunities at the position during OTAs and training camp. That was only fair. But Forbes also received plenty of looks at guard, a position at which most draft analysts believed he was a better fit for in the NFL.
Surrounded by a handful of veterans who have made a similar position switch, Forbes has embraced the tighter confines and subtle differences that come with playing an interior line position.
"It hits faster, but I like it because I like the phone booth style where it’s you and me and we’re just in a dog fight,” Forbes said Wednesday during the 2019 Cleveland Browns Football Camp in Berea, an event that brought out all 25 of the team’s rookies to work and play alongside youth football campers.
“I just really like that. The space element is still there but it’s not as present. You’re getting stepped on a little more because you’re between two guys.”
Browns Youth Football Camp at the Berea Facility on June 19, 2019
Upon analyzing his first set of NFL OTAs and minicamp practices, Forbes said he believes he’s “built” more to play guard than tackle. The switch just isn’t a done deal because the Browns have yet to have a single practice with pads.
How Forbes, who was lauded by general manager John Dorsey and the team’s scouting department for his motor and physicality after he was drafted, responds in that climate will determine the official next step in his development.
“We try to see how many guys that we have and see how versatile all of them can be,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said at the end of minicamp. “You may see him (at left tackle) at some point. Right now, we are trying to find Drew a base of the offense and a base of his knowledge and things like that. Once you have it and you can speak it, then you have to go do it. That is what we want to develop with Drew first and foremost.”
Forbes doesn’t have to look far for someone who has gone through a similar transition.
Cleveland’s Pro Bowl left guard, Joel Bitonio, was a tackle during his college days at Nevada. So, too, were Austin Corbett, who has lined up at both guard and center entering his second season, and Bryan Witzmann, a star tackle at South Dakota State who joined the Browns this offseason after five years of bouncing around the NFL as an interior lineman.
Forbes hasn’t shied away from tapping into his position group’s expertise.
“It’s been great,” Forbes said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been able to lean on guys to help me learn and get through such a massive playbook. It’s even more than it was being a freshman in college. You’re just relying on some of these guys to help you, take you under your wing and guide you through this process.”
Check out the best photos of the 2019 rookie class this offseason by team photographer Matt Starkey