Dawg Pound Journal: Joel Bitonio 'has position flexibility'


As it goes with NFL draft speculation, there has been a wide scope cast on which positions the Cleveland Browns will choose to use with the No.12 and No.19 selections.

Nathan Zegura and myself, have suggested defensive line and a pass rusher in our latest mock draft. But there's a growing voice, including from our very own Andrew Gribble and Matt Wilhelm, that Cleveland could choose an offensive lineman in the first round.

Coach Mike Pettine has said in the past that, overall, the team thought Mitchell Schwartz had a positive season. And general manager Ray Farmer was able to stash right tackle Michael Bowie on the injured reserve list all of last season. Many think Bowie could take a leap forward and compete for a starting role.

But there's another aspect to consider that gives the Browns even more offensive line elasticity than it's typically credited.

Meeting with reporters during last week's owners meetings in Phoenix, Pettine fielded a question about the future of Joel Bitonio. Could the left guard – whom the Pro Football Writers Association named an All-AFC first-teamer – move positions as soon as this season?

No – let's not get too crazy yet. But Pettine sees Bitonio as a player the Browns could potentially experiment with down the road.

"He has position flexibility," the head coach said. "I think Joel could play any of the five spots. He played left tackle in college.

"We even think down the road he could play right guard or right tackle. He's never played center before, but knowing his skill set and mentality, that's something I wouldn't put past him, either. We just hope we could find another one like it."

Bitonio has spent a good portion of his offseason in his hometown of Long Beach, California. The guard and most of the Browns will be back in the building April 20, when voluntary OTAs commence in Berea.

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