While 2020 has been full of surprises, this does not qualify as shocking news for the Cleveland Browns.
Coach Kevin Stefanski is 100% committed to starting Jedrick Wills at left tackle against the Ravens on Week 1 (September 13).
Almost from the time his name was announced in the 1st round of the NFL draft, it feels like he was going to be a starter.
The twist in the story is that the Browns have asked him to switch from right tackle to left tackle.
Early on, the Browns enlisted Joe Thomas to mentor Wills.
If anyone knows how to be an outstanding left tackle, Thomas does.
Due to the pandemic, this work was largely done on a virtual basis.
COVID-19 has posed many challenges, specifically to the rookies.
Offensive line coach Bill Callahan said,
“Rookies across the league are behind the curve.”
The virtual offseason and no preseason games has hurt their progression, and Wills is no exception.
When asked specifically about Wills, Callahan added,
“Our goal has been to bring him up to speed as fast as we can. We’ve really inundated him with techniques, walk-throughs, we’ve gone through several measures in the classroom showing different players doing the techniques we’re asking of him. I think the progress has been positive. You just don’t know until you go up against live competition.”
#Browns OL coach Bill Callahan on Jedrick Wills progress, calling it positive pic.twitter.com/zJYiFlqAW1
— Fred Greetham (@FredGreetham) August 29, 2020
Wills himself talked about his difficulties.
“It’s like trying to wake up every day and you’re right-handed and you try to do everything with your left, like text, write, throw a football, it’s super weird, but it’s a learning process and I’ve got full faith that I’ll be able to do it.”
The coaching staff has noted his positive attitude.
Jedrick Wills has a sincere desire to learn how to be better without an ego and you can’t fake that.
— ChadP71 @BrownsAccess (@chadp71) August 26, 2020
He occasionally seeks out defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Myles Garrett as well as assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters for advice.
His performance at Alabama was stellar.
Even though he gave up his senior season to enter in the NFL draft, he received many accolades with the Crimson Tide.
Wills was a member of the Alabama National Championship team during his freshman year in 2017.
He was named First Team All-SEC and Second Team All-American in 2019.
Hopefully, he can continue the excellence during his rookie season.
While Wills being a rookie starter on the offensive line is not a surprise, the surprise is he could have a fellow rookie starting alongside him.
Center JC Tretter had minor knee surgery in mid-August and pledged to be back for the Ravens game on September 13.
Stefanski has been happy with Nick Harris‘s progression but stated that he is not ready to make an opening day decision at center yet.
That decision is not expected until the week before the season opener; JC Tretter started all 16 games last season.
Nick Harris has been impressive.
When asked about Harris, Callahan said,
“Trying to bring him up to speed with all the physical fundamental techniques at his position has been really challenging, but he’s a guy that continues to make strides.”
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