You 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.
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.