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Cameron Erving's spot on Browns' O-line TBD as versatility opens up options

Mike Pettine put a twist on a popular phrase as he described the Browns' newest offensive lineman, Florida State's Cameron Erving.

"Jack of all trades, master of several."

Erving began his college career as an under-the-radar defensive tackle. He made a smooth adjustment to left tackle as a third-year sophomore and looked even smoother when he was called upon to play center during the final five games of his senior season. Along the way he won a BCS National Championship and all sorts of personal honors for his blocking prowess, including awards for his play at two different spots on Florida State's offensive line.

With Thursday's 19th pick, the Browns landed the rare five-tool offensive lineman in Erving, who was given another label when it pertained to where he'll begin his career in Cleveland.


"That's the beauty of kind of what his skill set is," Pettine said. "Here's a guy that can play multiple positions. We'll have to get that sorted out."

Shortly after he said it, Pettine eliminated the obvious.

Erving won't be vying for snaps at left tackle, where eight-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas is stationed, or the entire left side for that matter with Joel Bitonio emerging as one of the NFL's top left guards during an impressive rookie season. Center, too, is out for now, as the Browns anxiously await the return of Alex Mack, who missed most of 2014 with an injury. That doesn't rule out serving as the backup center, a position in which Cleveland saw a major dropoff when Mack was sidelined.

That leaves right guard and right tackle, spots manned by veterans John Greco and Mitchell Schwartz, respectively. Michael Bowie, who sat out all of 2014 with a shoulder injury, is also anticipated to compete for a significant role.

"As rule of thumb, teams find a lot of ways to win games," Farmer said. "From my perspective, I think our competitive advantage right now for the offense is the offensive line. To bolster that group, we took the guy that we thought had the most additional versatility and the skillset for who we wanted to be.

"Regardless of where he gets inserted, it is a positive for us."

Farmer said Erving's versatility goes beyond the multiple positions he's capable of playing. He's also "non-scheme dependent," meaning he's just as productive in a gap scheme offensive line, power scheme offensive line or zone-blocking, the latter of which Cleveland primarily operated from in 2014.

"Whether you took him and wanted to run downhill at people or whether you wanted to run laterally, the guy has a skill set that allows him to play in any of those schemes and at a variety of positions," Farmer said. "He is a valuable guy in that way."

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