The transition from right tackle, which Wills successfully played in college at Alabama, to left tackle is in the rear-view mirror as our the league’s necessary COVID-19 restrictions which arguably impacted young players’ development from NCAA to NFL competition in the past two seasons.
All of this means that 2022 is a make-or-break season for Wills; no excuses are allowed for anything less than a great year.
Most underrated: Greedy Williams
Best player: Nicholas Jamaal Chubb
Key new addition: Deshaun Watson or Coop
Could surprise: Grant Delpit
Takes a leap: JOK
Make or break year: Jedrick Wills
Stolen from @chivoo42 !
— thegoat_wittman (@clevelandplswin) May 5, 2022
The Browns’ 2020 first-round draft pick will be up for scrutiny on his fifth-year contract option in spring 2023.
How he performs throughout the entirety of the 2022 season will be the biggest factor in the Browns’ decision-making.
Here are the ways in which Wills can succeed in his make-or-break year.
1. Stay Healthy
Staying healthy for the duration of the season is a top priority for all NFL players.
Their livelihoods depend on it.
Wills is no exception especially since he has a checkered healthy history in his prior two seasons.
Even worse than that is the fact that Wills’ injuries came consistently early in those seasons, as early as Week 1.
Jedrick Wills avoided any serious injury after leaving the Chiefs game early.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 13, 2021
Then, there is the whole discussion about him playing hampered in 2021 which seemed to be a Browns trend (Baker Mayfield did it also).
In his short career, he has not played a complete season; he recorded 15 starts in 2020 and 13 in 2021.
Hopefully, his offseason conditioning has been on point and can help him be ready for Week 1 against Carolina and beyond.
Indications thus far from Coach Stefanski this offseason are positive; he said Wills is in “great shape”.
#Browns Kevin Stefanski said Jedrick Wills came to OTAs and minicamp in "great shape."
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) June 16, 2022
2. Play Clean
Being an offensive tackle is not necessarily the most glamorous position on the team, but it is an extremely important one.
The left tackle protects the right-handed quarterback’s blind side.
That means Wills has to protect the Browns QB1 while also not committing unnecessary penalties such as the dreaded holding or offsides penalties that can kill offensive momentum on potential scoring drives.
Wyatt Teller says Jedrick Wills Jr. will be alright after struggling with injuries and pre-snap penalties for much of the 2021 season, and just needs to get to work during the offseason @Browns https://t.co/SjXmeOKmAs
— Matt Florjancic (@MattFlorjancic) January 14, 2022
Wills had 11 penalties in his rookie season: 3 were holding and 8 were false starts.
He played fewer snaps in 2021 but still committed penalties.
Wills had 1 holding and 3 false start penalty flags thrown because of his actions.
With Coach Bill Callahan who is arguably the best offensive line coach in the NFL in Wills corner, we should see third-year growth and development in his play.
The fact that the quarterbacks and center have changed since 2021 will make for an interesting twist in Wills’s adjustment to a whole new cadence and approach.
Regardless of all of the changes, if Wills wants that coveted fifth-year option, he needs to put up a banner season of health, precision, and performance in 2022.