We're 21 days -- three weeks -- from the start of training camp in Berea, which means we have a little time to look toward the clouds and ponder deep thoughts about how things might go for the 2019 Cleveland Browns.
From that process, we've emerged from the inner portion of our football-focused consciences with nine very important questions related to this football team, which reconvenes for the start of camp in a month. We'll address one per weekday for the next two weeks. Lastly, we meet our most important question: Can the Browns find a reliable player to fill an open spot on the offensive line?
Check out the best photos of last week's Browns Minicamp by team photographer Matt Starkey
Most Important Question Ahead of Training Camp No. 1: Who will start at right guard?
The Browns found the guy at quarterback after two decades of failing to do so, selecting Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick of the 2018 draft.
You know the rest of the story to this point. Mayfield shined and inspired sky-high optimism for a franchise that has lacked such excitement under center. Now, it's time for the Browns to figure out who is worthy of protecting part of the interior line in front of Mayfield.
Cleveland had two of the NFL's most effective guards in 2018 in Joel Bitonio and Kevin Zeitler, but sent the latter to New York in the trade that landed the team Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon. Logically, the Browns were trading a surplus to address two weaknesses. But that's only a surplus if the team can procure a worthy replacement from its current roster.
First up to get a shot at winning the job is guard Austin Corbett, a former tackle at Nevada who soon learned he'd have a better future on the interior in the NFL. Corbett spent his first season primarily on the sideline, buried behind Bitonio and Zeitler on the depth chart, but learning from the veterans. Management made it clear he won't be handed the job in 2019, stressing he'll have to earn such a privilege.
Cleveland used minicamp to test out a few options related to the position, giving reps at right guard to Corbett, but also to Kyle Kalis and free agent addition Eric Kush. The Browns also signed veteran interior lineman Bryan Witzmann and drafted tackle Drew Forbes in the offseason, adding more competition for the position. Though he was a tackle at Southeast Missouri State, Forbes likely will end up being a guard, as it suits his play style and frame better in the NFL.
The rotation at the position caused some concern from onlookers, who were surprised to see Corbett not taking all of the first-team reps. This was also a product of media only being permitted to watch one practice each week before minicamp. Head coach Freddie Kitchens said Corbett's lack of public first-team reps was more because of daily rotation than any lack of ability.
Still, though, the position is not settled. We covered the possibilities in a story in June, and it's still an open competition within a team that stresses such battles and the importance of "competitive depth."
But the most important fact one can gain from this piece is this: Offensive line jobs are won in training camp. Pads are required to judge the physicality of a player and how well he can protect the passer when the game is played at full speed. Corbett and Co. will receive plenty of quality tests during this time, thanks to a defensive line that is loaded with talent.
Until then, it's not worth wasting energy wringing hands over the situation at the position. Cleveland spent a second-round pick on Corbett because it sees him as a future starter, and in the event he doesn't live up to such expectations, the Browns have added enough experience in Kush and Witzmann -- two linemen who saw starting snaps in Chicago last season -- to fill the void for 2019, at least. The unknown potential of Kalis is also worth monitoring when the pads come on. He's a former four-star recruit whose natural ability has received attention in his second NFL season (and first full offseason).
The Browns will find a starter at right guard. If he jells with the rest of the solid starting group, this important question will become an afterthought.