Browns

Banner Report: The Offensive Line

Banner Report Low

Banner Report LowYou may remember back in 2010 (you know the last time there was a complete overhaul in Berea) we wanted to give incoming President Mike Holmgren a hand evaluating the roster. We are nothing if not equal opportunity. The Browns have a completely new group in charge this year. Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, Rob Chudzinski, Norv Turner and Ray Horton take over a 5-11 team. They have plenty of important decisions to make about the roster between now and the 2013 NFL Draft. WFNY wants to offer our assistance with The Banner Position Reports. Previous reports:LB, QB, RB, DBs, DL, WR/TE.

The last of the Banner position reports. Of course we saved the glamor position for last- the offensive line. There are conflicting opinions about the state of the Browns’ offensive line. They seem to be highly praised outside of the area. Do we have a hangover from previous years of poor play? Is the guard play bad enough to warrant an elevated Banner Report status?

The 2012 Season

LT Joe Thomas

LG John Greco*

C Alex Mack

RG Shawn Lauvao

RT Mitchell Schwartz (R)

Reserves- Oniel Cousins, Ryan Miller (R), Jarrod Shaw, Dominic Alford

Injured Reserve- Jason Pinkston

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this fact- Joe Thomas, Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz have played EVERY OFFENSIVE SNAP of their NFL careers. Not only do they play every game, but they play very, very well every game.

Second round pick Mitchell Schwartz solidified this line. He stopped the turnstile that the Browns have had for years at right tackle. Did he have some rough moments? Of course. He was also a rookie. He will get even better.

Pro Football Focus rated all of the offensive lines after the season. The Browns ranked 5th in pass blocking, 11th in rush blocking and were 25th in penalties. (That needs to be cleaned up.) Overall they were the 5th best line in football according to PFF-

Stud: In the upcoming weeks or so we’re going to do a piece on how often (per second) Joe Thomas (+25.6) gives up pressure compared to the rest of the league. It’s stunning how shutdown he is. Now, if only his run blocking matched up to his work in the pass game.

Dud: You can get by with players like Shawn Lauvao (-7.3) when the rest of your line is so good.

Summary: It’s not the done thing to give praise to Cleveland. That said, their line is extremely talented and when they were forced to introduce John Greco into the lineup they got even better. The stars are Thomas and Alex Mack, but the play of rookie Mitchell Schwartz bodes well for this line for a long time to come.

Which brings us to the guards. Jason Pinkston was hospitalized in October with a blood clot in his lung that shut him down for the rest of the season. All signs seem to indicate that Pinkston will be back. As PFF indicated, John Greco did a very nice job filling in for Pinkston. So much so, that I would be willing to let him and Lauvao fight it out for the RG spot opposite Greco.

Contract Situation

Dominic Alford- 2013: $405,000, 2014: $495,000, 2015: Exclusive Rights Free Agent

Oniel Cousins- 2013: $725,000, 2014: Free Agent

John Greco- 2013: $800,000, 2014: Free Agent

Shawn Lauvao- 2013: $1.323 million, 2014: Free Agent

Alex Mack- 2013: $3.732 million (+ $1.8 million roster bonus), 2014: Free Agent

Ryan Miller- 2013: $480,000, 2014: $570,000, 2015: $660,000, 2016: Free Agent

Jason Pinkston- 2013: $555,000, 2014: $645,000, 2015: Free Agent

Mitchell Schwartz- 2013: $625,038, 2014: $835,076, 2015: $1,095,114, 2016: Free Agent

Jarrod Shaw- 2013: $480,000, 2014: Exclusive Rights Free Agent

Joe Thomas- 2013: $10 million, 2014: $10.9 million, 2015: $8.8 million, 2016: $8.3 million, 2017-2018: $8.8 million, 2019: Free Agent

Browns Roster Upgrade Advisory: Low

Some are going to call me nuts. Fine. Here’s my reasoning- if the Browns were to go into the season with the exact same group would that be a bad thing? I don’t really think so. Would I like to see five Pro-Bowlers across the line? Of course I would. I’d love to be able to count on Lauvao as a depth player.  We don’t know what we have in Ryan Miller. He will be improved as a second year player. I like what Greco did as a guard. My biggest concern is with Pinkston coming back strong and ready to play.

If there is money to spend on the offensive line, I would like to see the Browns lock up Alex Mack long term.

Top Free Agents

Andy Levitre Buf- SIGNED yesterday

Louis Vasquez SD- SIGNED yesterday

Donald Thomas NE- SIGNED yesterday

Brandon Moore NYJ

Geoff Schwartz Car

Kevin Boothe NYG

Many wanted to see the Browns go after Levitre or Vasquez. Would the line have looked better with either at RG? Of course. But I will state again, there is value to be had at guard, and I think the Browns didn’t need to break the bank to get it.

Geoff Schwartz is mighty intriguing. He is the brother of RT Mitchell Scwartz. He wouldn’t cost the Browns an arm and a leg. That is a pair of dice worth tossing.

The 2013 Draft Class

Chance Warmack, G, Alabama- Height: 6-3. Weight: 320.

Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina- Height: 6-3. Weight: 295.

Dallas Thomas, G/OT, Tennessee- Height: 6-5. Weight: 308.

Barrett Jones, C/G/T, Alabama- Height: 6-5. Weight: 311.

Larry Warford, G, Kentucky- Height: 6-3. Weight: 333.

Travis Frederick, C/G, Wisconsin- Height: 6-4. Weight: 338.

Alvin Bailey, OT/G, Arkansas- Height: 6-5. Weight: 319.

David Quessenberry, C/G, San Jose State- Height: 6-5. Weight: 294.

Braden Hansen, C/G, BYU- Height: 6-6. Weight: 310.

I don’t think it is worth listing the OT available at the top of the draft. The Browns aren’t going for one of those. If you are looking for an interior lineman, this year’s draft is said to be very strong. I’ve seen projections that have as many as 3 guards going in the first round. That’s unheard of in today’s draft. There will be quality available in the third and fourth round if the Browns want to target a player there. Honestly, it would surprise me a bit if they did.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Obviously the guard position needs to be shored up but as long as a first round pick isn’t used to do so I’ll be fine with any other method. The work needs to come in getting better IMO not a drastic change in personnel.

  • mgbode

    Green (SD) is another FA who is interesting in the 2nd tier FAs w/ Schwartz (Car). Hey, look at that, we have coaching ties to both 🙂

    I think we bring in 1 more OG and have the 4 guys battle it out for 2 spots (New-Guy, Greco, Pinkston, Lauvao). And we extend Mack in July.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    A few weeks ago the question was asked regarding whether we should take a guard with our first round pick. My response was an emphatic “No”. We should be able to pick up a quality guard in the later rounds.

    How about this though: say we sign a quality CB2 in the next couple days. This eliminates the immediate need for a CB in the draft (e.g. Millner, if he would even be there at 6). Our defensive front seven looks to be in good shape after picking up Kruger/Bryant/Groves.

    Add to this the idea that offensive linemen generally have the lowest “bust” potential of any position, and the idea of taking Warmack at 6, or maybe trading down a few spots, picking up a 2nd rounder, and taking Jonathan Cooper gets a lot more intriguing.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If all that is left is a need to improve the OG then by all means I could see someone at #6 but that’s highly unlikely. Not only that but hopefully this team doesn’t have many more opportunities at drafting an impactful skilled position player in the future as high as six.

  • Jaker

    I’m on board with bringing in Geoff Schwartz. I don’t think we need to spend money or a high pick on upgrading the OLine. While I do believe that Luavao can be upgraded, I feel like bringing in Schwartz and having a Greco-Pinkston-Lauvao-Schwartz-Miller(?) battle for the two guard spots wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.

    I also want a Mack extension. It would be nice to take care of that this spring/summer, along with Ward and even Greco. All three will become more expensive next offseason (Mack and Ward especially), an extension would be much cheaper now.

  • deebo

    I hope the Browns get an athletic starting guard who can pull. Compare the Steinbach-Thomas Browns and the Thomas-Some Other Guy Browns and the difference is apparent. How were those screen passes the past two years?

  • mgbode

    speaking of OL, I mentioned earlier that there are several teams behind us in the draft that may be desperate for the 3rd OT if the first 2 go before our pick (~60% chance of happening IMO).

    Teams behind us that desperately need OL:

    #7 Arizona Cardinals – really, really badly. In fact, if only 1 OT goes before us, then it is quite possible a team will want to jump AZ to get their preferred 2nd best OT.

    #8 Buffalo Bills – their OL is a mess, but Cordy Glenn looked good at LT. More likely the first team to consider Warmack/Cooper.

    #12 Miami Dolphins – Jake Long supposedly signing with StL today. Not sure why Miami is allowing LT to become a gaping hole when they are on the outside of the draft spectrum of getting a replacement right now. Our best trade candidate that might get desperate.

    #15 NO Saints – Brees cannot be happy that they let Bushrod walk the year after letting Nicks walk.

    #20 Chicago Bears – they signed Bushrod, so maybe not, but they do still need an OT.

    #23 Minny Vikings – if they let Loadholt walk

    #26 GB Packers – I’m not a Newhouse fan. They really should have a better OL for Rodgers and they’d be near unstoppable.

    ————————

    Note: those are just the teams that I think might get desperate. I think Miami is the best candidate based on their moving chips to the center of the table opening to free agency and losing former high pick Jake Long.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I think the Vikings already signed Loadholt.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    They were bad, deebo. Really, horribly, infuriatingly bad.

  • TSR3000

    I agree. I still think Jones or Jordan at #6. You can’t have enough of those kind of players in the 3-4.

  • mgbode

    cross him off then!

  • REEPJP

    I’m hoping for at least one CB in FA…trade down and pick up a 2nd round pick in the process. With newly acquired late 2nd or our early 3rd take a flier on the Honeybadger…I know he’s small and has some character issues, but he’s a player, performed well at the combine and could learn the ropes as the nickel and a returner the next year or two.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Awesome, you just made me write on my screen with a Sharpie. THANKS MAN.

    (uptick for the Major League reference… always fun)

  • mgbode

    it’s especially fun for the non-Cleveland-centric people who assume you are being mean and not light-hearted.

  • mgbode

    with most players, I attempt to make rational arguments spent discussing their merits and demerits. with mathieu, I just link to this video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KBPaoS6odk

  • Kildawg

    I think Greco was one of the best (if not the best) 6th OL last season, and he can back up all the positions as well. Agree with extending Mack, think he’s worth $7-9mil/year (not quite Joe Thomas money, but still good money for a dependable, durable, Pro-Bowl caliber center).

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Downtick for being mean.

  • Harv 21

    The greatest threat to the Browns ability to get to win 8 games next season is the secondary suckitude. One out of four starters can cover someone, and the subs are all worse or totally green and must play 5 yards off the receivers. An excellent d-line can cover some LB weakness, but it takes both a solid d-line and linebacking corps to hide a secondary this bad.

    O-line is already a strength, and with no current second rounder don’t see how we can consider a guard until way down. Even if we sign an average FA corner, we still need more defense, safeties and corners and LBs. More than the need to win, the Browns need to stop losing, immediately, to blow that 14-year stench from the the players and Berea and initiate a mindset that losing is not ok. Don’t overthink, Browns. Plug the hemorrhaging which will surely make you lose close games and build from there.

  • I like B. Jones from Alabama in the 4th round. he’s got a high motor and can play C/G/RT. He needs work on his release but that is a technique that escapes many 3rd years Pro’s.