The Cleveland Browns open their mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
Though the quarterback situation garners top headlines, maintaining the best offensive line in football is always a priority.
Good morning my Cleveland Browns family!! I don’t know who needs to hear this but The Cleveland Browns have the best guards in football !!
Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller 😤💪🔥#Browns #brownstwitter#NFL pic.twitter.com/wlodMUci85
— The_Brownie_Elf (@TheBrownieElf1) May 20, 2022
Conklin is progressing well after a knee injury significantly curtailed his 2021 season.
#Browns Coach Stefanski said the other day Jack Conklin is on track with his recovery
In 2020 the team gave up 26 sacks (4.9 sack%)
in 2021 (missed 10 games) the team gave up 49 sacks (8.6 sack%)
The team needs the 2020 1st Team All-Pro back if they want to reach the playoffs pic.twitter.com/5QNuqqYocl
— Mac🦬 (@tha_buffalo) June 9, 2022
A healthy Conklin is critical for the Browns.
Jedrick Wills Jr. is a concern for the Browns this year.
Wills, 23, the Browns’ first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, was also hampered by injuries last season.
Going into his third season, he is a player that the Browns will be watching closely.
Some believe this is a make-or-break year for Wills.
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
Here are two reasons why Wills could be a concern for the Browns moving forward.
1. He Has A Pattern Of Early Season Injuries
In his rookie season in 2020, he played 15 games.
Last season, he only played 13 games.
To make matters worse, Wills got injured both seasons in Week 1.
In 2020, he suffered a leg injury against the Baltimore Ravens.
He injured his ankle on a Jarvis Landry touchdown run early in the 2021 opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Wills played through the injury which did not help his cause last season.
@ESPNCleveland what short memories.. jedrick wills had an off year last season because he had an ankle injury that they thought it better to let him 'play through'.. had they just let him sit for two games to let it heal.. it would have been a different story…
— BrownsFreak51 (@BrownsFreak51) May 18, 2022
Could his injuries have been related to abridged practice and training camp COVID-19 protocols in both of his NFL seasons?
It is hard to say, but the Browns should be focused on adequate strength and conditioning programs to keep Wills healthy for the long haul.
2. He Is Directly Affected By Quarterback Uncertainty
The left tackle has the job of protecting the blind side of the right-handed quarterback.
Wills moved from playing right tackle in college at Alabama to left tackle for the Browns.
Joe Thomas gave him pointers, and he will need to draw from those and his two seasons of experience to deal with quarterback uncertainty.
He will benefit from a full training camp working with Watson and Brisset, but the overall quarterback uncertainty for the 2022 season does affect Wills in a year that is critical for him.
Will The Browns Exercise His Fifth Year Option?
We are not getting ahead of ourselves when we discuss Wills’ fifth-year option.
The Browns will have to make that decision during the 2023 offseason.
Conklin will be a free agent in 2023 so the Browns will need to assess the future of their tackles.
Will the Browns extend the 27-year-old Conklin?
Could they choose to move Wills to the right tackle position if Conklin is out of the picture?
Or could the Browns opt not to exercise Wills’s fifth-year option?
Of course, the priority is 2022 and winning football games, but how Wills plays this season could significantly affect in what capacity or for how long he plays for the Browns.