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Offensive tackle prospects unafraid of immediate competition possible with Browns

INDIANAPOLIS -- Whenever Dalton Risner's football career ends, he has an incredibly bright future in politics. Or sales. Or both.

The Kansas State tackle oozed with charisma when speaking with reporters Thursday at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. Risner told stories of growing up "building barbed wire fence, throwing hay bales and living in the pasture," and how his father emphasized how football wasn't just a game, but a job that "put food on the table" -- in peewee football.

"I'm bigger than all these kids and I'm telling them it's a job and these kids are like 'what are you talking about?'" Risner said while chuckling.

It was evident Risner possesses advanced communication skills, likely gained from years of selling himself as a prospect to college coaches simply out of need, which earned him a handful of Division I offers. Risner rattled off names of position coaches he's met much more recently during his pre-draft process, recalling with detail their individual meetings from an experience that for many is a blur. For him, it was crystal clear.

His future will become just as clear in April. But for now, he's auditioning for all 32 teams, including the Cleveland Browns.

Greg Robinson's signing this week guarantees the return of all five of the Browns' starters up front from the 2018 season. But that doesn't mean they aren't still in the market for a tackle in the draft.

The 2019 draft's class of tackles started their public NFL Combine experience Thursday, hitting the bench press in front of stands filled with fans inside the Indiana Convention Center, and then taking the podium to answer a smattering of questions from media members.

With Robinson signed and Chris Hubbard returning, the need at tackle seems less pressing. It also creates a potential for immediate competition between a rookie and a veteran should the Browns add a tackle. Browns general manager John Dorsey emphasized the desire to create competition across the team earlier Thursday.

"No issue for me. I love to compete," Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor said. "Coming to Florida, I had to compete my first day there and I still started every game my freshman year. I love competing."

That was a common response from some of the top tackle prospects in this draft, and it's to be expected from anyone playing a competitive sport. But there was also the other layer to competing with a veteran player: Education from an elder.

"I love learning. I love getting experience from older guys," Ole Miss tackle Greg Little said. "I love soaking it in like a sponge what I did good, what I did bad. I love to compete also. Anything the coach asks me to do, I'm willing to do. Playing anything on the O-line. If I've got to sit somewhere, play right tackle, I'm cool with that. Play center or guard, I'm cool with that also. Just coming in and being coachable is the biggest thing."

USC tackle Chuma Edoga agreed.

"I would love that. I love competition," Edoga said. "I feel like I could also get some learning from them, compete with a guy who's been in the league. So I would love that situation."

One prospect who's been matched with the Browns at No. 17 in some mock drafts, Washington State tackle Andre Dillard, explained how he's used YouTube to learn from the best tackles on the planet and attempt to emulate them. He was open to the idea of playing behind a veteran early in his career.

"That'd be really nice. I'd get a lot of advice from a vet and learn from what he does and just do what I do with the internet videos and study them," Dillard said. "I did that with Joe Dahl when he was at Washington State. He was the guy ahead of me and I watched everything he did, and it kind of translated to my game."

West Virginia tackle Yodny Cajuste has experience playing against a current Brown: defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, whom he named as one of the two best defensive linemen he faced in college.

There's a catch: Cajuste faced him during his freshman year. But the tackle felt he held his own against the future second-round pick of the Browns and used it as a part of his foundation for future success. That same foundation would become useful if he and Ogbah met again on the field as teammates in Cleveland, where Cajuste would also be attempting to make his own mark on the offensive line.

"At the end of the day, there's a lot of teams who have asked me, 'can I play guard?'" Cajuste said. "Personally, I feel like I'm best suited at left tackle. But I'm willing to do whatever a team tells me to do. If you want me to play left guard, right tackle, it doesn't matter."

There's the thought, though, that a team might lose the interest of a high-round pick if he doesn't play immediately. Little summed that possible quandary up best.

"There's only one name on that paycheck," Little said. "Pretty much, nobody else is going to make you do things. You have to make yourself accountable."

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