One of the major areas the Cleveland Browns needed to address this offseason was the offensive line.
A weak offensive line leads to an unsuccessful rushing attack and often times puts your quarterback in tough spots
The starting tackle spots were an enormous problem for the Browns last season.
The Cleveland Browns' new and improved offensive line🔥 pic.twitter.com/6qmwn3s8Yu
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 29, 2020
The Browns made sure that the same issues that plagued them in 2019 weren’t going to happen again.
Pro Football Focus recently ranked the Browns as having the most improved offensive line this offseason.
The addition of Jack Conklin
The Browns started their offensive line rebuild with one of the most coveted tackles available in free agency.
Here’s what PFF wrote about the addition on Conklin:
“Cleveland began its offensive line rebuild by targeting arguably the top offensive lineman on the market in free agency — 25-year-old right tackle Jack Conklin. He is coming off arguably the best year of his career in 2019, earning an 80.5 overall grade and dominating in the run game, where he earned an 83.7 run-blocking grade while paving the way for Derrick Henry in Tennessee. He’s not exactly a sure thing when it comes to one-on-one pass protection against some of the better edge defenders in the NFL, but he’s serviceable there, which is a definitive upgrade over what Cleveland had last season. His prowess as one of the better run-blocking tackles in the NFL should play well in Kevin Stefanski’s new offense, clearing room to run for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.”
25-year-old Jack Conklin hit free agency after arguably the best season of his career in 2019.
#Browns new RT Jack Conklin passes his physical and signs his 3-year, $42 million contract
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 20, 2020
The Browns wasted no time and locked up Conklin to a three-year $42 million deal over the offseason.
He earned an 80.5 overall grade and a 83.7 run-blocking grade for the Tennessee Titans last season.
The former first-round pick has been a serviceable option for the Titans over the last four years.
Conklin was the No. 8 overall pick by Tennessee during the 2016 NFL Draft.
He is better known for his run-blocking ability which should play well in Kevin Stefanski’s new offensive scheme.
The addition of Jedrick Wills Jr.
“The Browns then came back with Jedrick Wills in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, securing what they hope to be the bookends on the offensive line for years to come. Wills is a very good athlete, and he uses that to his advantage as a run blocker, getting out in space and up to the second level on linebackers. At Alabama last season, Wills earned a 90.5 run-blocking grade to go along with an 82.5 grade in pass protection. At just under 21 years old, there is still plenty of time for him to continue to improve technically, and he has all the physical tools to become one of the league’s top tackles.”
His game is tailor-made for the NFL, so the Browns made an excellent choice by selecting Wills in the first round.
The Browns get Baker some more protection
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) April 24, 2020
Wills earned an 82.5 pass blocking-grade and a 90.5 run-blocking grade during his final year at Alabama.
He was one of the most impressive tackles in the draft and is expected to be an All-Pro in the NFL.
Wills is extremely athletic, good flexibility, and has fantastic footwork.
He has all the physical tools to become one of the best tackles in the league.
The Browns are hopeful he can still improve and give them a shutdown left tackle for years to come.
What Happened in 2019?
The biggest issue for Cleveland was the lack of production from Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard.
The 2019 season was supposed to be a breakout campaign for quarterback Baker Mayfield, but instead he was sacked 40 times.
Last season, the Browns tackles finished with a 57.5 overall grade, which ranked 30th in the NFL.
It’s tough to run the football or pass successfully when your offensive line continues to let you down.
Cleveland knew that they weren’t going to succeed unless they made changes this offseason.
Will These Changes Help Cleveland?
Both Conklin and Wills are going to make immediate impacts on the offensive line for Cleveland next season.
The rest of the offensive line is average, but the Browns are in better position than they were last year.
Rebuilding the entire offensive line is going to take time, but these moves are a great first step.
The Browns have acquired two reliable tackles that will hopefully fix most of their problems on the offensive line going forward.
These changes should help both the running game and give Mayfield more time to work in 2020.
The offensive line isn’t perfect, but the Browns have made enormous upgrades this offseason.