Lost amid the Cleveland Browns‘ offseason quarterback drama is the stalled roster rebuild for 2022.
Amari Cooper still has no star-labeled partner to take some coverage heat off of him.
And Andrew Berry continues to ignore calls to sign a proven interior defensive lineman.
Apparently, the Browns’ front office gurus believe in their youthful collection of players at both positions.
#Browns GM Andrew Berry: "Tommy Togiai separated himself on his film. For us, the pro days don't have a super heavy weighting in terms of our evaluations."
— 92.3 The Fan (@923TheFan) May 4, 2021
Excellent receivers at tight end and running back can make up for any deficit from the wideouts.
But Joe Woods’ defense will have a more difficult time if the interior front proves lacking.
Jordan Elliott and Taven Bryan took most of the starting snaps in the Browns OTAs.
But the success of the unit might ride on the rest of the rotation, especially second-year player Tommy Togiai.
Molding Togiai Into a Pro Tackle
Tommy Togiai turned heads with 40 bench reps in the middle of an impressive 2021 Pro Day.
But the NFL’s offensive linemen proved more difficult to push away.
Togiai made the roster due to his promise and his 4th round draft status more than anything he did in camp.
It was Week 10 before he saw the field in a real game, tallying just 124 defensive snaps on the season.
🆕 40 reps of 225lbs 😅 😰 Tommy Togiai said it's all about 'breathing' – sheesh.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) July 1, 2021
Defensive line coach Chris Kiffin says Togiai knows what he has to do to earn more playing time.
But it is teammates Bryan and Phillips, along with rookie Perrion Winfrey, getting most of the offseason attention.
Phillips added 10 pounds of muscle and looks stronger than ever, solidifying his spot atop the depth chart.
That might motivate Togiai to bulk up and hit the weight room even harder.
Is Togiai A Lock To Make The Team?
Unless something unexpected happens, Tommy Togiai probably has this and even another season to prove himself.
Despite the hype, Togiai enters the preseason penciled in ahead of rookie Perrion Winfrey on the depth chart.
If the season opened today, Togiai and veteran Sheldon Day probably round out the interior rotation.
But once Winfrey gets up to NFL speed, literally and figuratively, he is the biggest threat to Togiai or Day.
Tommy Togiai is a very unique type of player. It’s going to be interesting where/how the #Browns use him in 2022. He’s got the body of a 3-Tech but the traits and play style of a 1-Tech. Excellent mix of strength/twitch playing between the A gaps.
— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) June 2, 2022
Last season, Berry carried 5 interior linemen, possibly to protect his underwhelming rookie.
But in 2020, the team only carried 4, a number that could accommodate an extra running back or quarterback.
Chase Winovich and rookie, Alex Wright, can push Jadeveon Clowney inside with some frequency.
And that could help put the 5th interior lineman spot at risk.
Why Togiai Is Key To Browns’ Success
Taven Bryan took most of the starting snaps during the Browns OTAs this winter.
But Bryan is primarily a pass-rusher with a quick first step and a nose for the quarterback.
That might not always work for the Browns if their top-notch secondary stays healthy.
Teams will want to run and run often to avoid challenging Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome.
I dream of a world where Jordan Elliott and Tommy Togiai can be good enough to be the defensive tackles on run downs.
— Pete Smith (@_PeteSmith_) June 16, 2022
Togiai was thought to be NFL-ready as a run defender before hitting the field last season.
If he handles run-blockers better this time around, he will see more of the early snaps.
Working on his run defense may or may not slow his pass rush development.
But Bryan and/or Winfrey’s pass-rushing prowess allows the Browns to wait for that development to happen.