After a masterful offseason of roster building by the Cleveland Browns front office, the test for the new coaching staff started on May 3rd with the rookie minicamp in Berea Ohio. Find those last few players to help take this team to the next level in 2019. Let’s take a look now on the offensive side of the ball, and the battle that will take place on making the 53.
Starting in the trenches with the offensive line and using the numbers from last year, as to how the makeup should look. Three tackles, four guards and one center for a total of 8 on the final roster.
1. #75 Left Guard Joel Bitonio, should be a secure lock
2. #64 Center JC Tretter, already has chemistry with Mayfield and coming one of his best years in the NFL I believe Tretter will be a lock as well.
3. #63 Right Guard Austin Corbett, GM John Dorsey has so much faith in the second year of Corbett’s career he felt comfortable trading Kevin Zeitler. He’ll be a lock as well.
With the interior of the line secured it will be down to the two starting tackles and three backups.
4. #79 Tackle Drew Forbes, After the selection of Forbes you could tell the Browns front office, was very happy with this pick. Playing in a tackle in college but projected to the NFL as a guard it’s hard to tell right now what position he’ll hold on the team. I would believe the odd’s favor the Browns retaining him for the 2019 season.
5. #78 Left Tackle Greg Robinson, signed a one year team friendly deal for the 2019 season. Robinson started the season slowly but after winning the job finished strong earning a final PFF grade of average. With a contract that would give the Browns an additional 6.5 million in cap plus real trade value, it could make him vulnerable.
6. #74 Right Tackle Chris Hubbard, Taking the most snaps in his NFL career finished the year strong according to PFF earning an above average grade. Hubbard was strong all year with pass blocking but had a few below average games with the run. Another critical metric on Hubbard’s side was he only commented three penalties all year. Two against the high powered Ravens defense.
The contract that Hubbard signed with the Browns does not give them a good out for the 2019 season. Only releasing him would cost 2 million in cap loss and trading would gain 4.1 million but would include 3.2 million in dead money.
7. #69 Left Tackle Desmond Harrison, As a UDFA Harrison quickly took favor with the former Browns coaching staff. Working hard in training camp he was able to win the starting job for week one. After that, it was a difficult time for the rookie earning a PFF grade of average overall and below average with run blocking.
Harrison was able to receive an above average grade with pass blocking but in eleven games had eight penalties. The current contract would allow the Browns to gain only $563,332 in cap space if they chose to move on.
8. #72 Left Guard Eric Kush, Selected in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by GM John Dorsey when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. With 5 years in the NFL Kush may be the safety net Dorsey was looking for this year. After spending the 2017 season with the Bears, Kush earned an average grade overall from PFF. Kush was, however, able to receive an above average grade for pass blocking.
Only committing two pentiles for the 2018 season Kush gives the Browns a dependable veteran. Dorsey signed Kush to a two-year deal in March for only 3.75 million and if the Browns chose to release him would only gain $825,000 in cap space.
9. #68 Center Kyle Kalis, Kalis has two years in the NFL now and was signed to the Browns practice squad early in 2018. Kalis was then elevated to the Browns 53-man roster in December. During that time he played in three games helping with special team field goals earning an average grade from PFF.
Contractually the cost for the Browns is the league minimum and would play no factor in his release. Kalis is a versatile player able to move from center to guard and has a working relationship with the team already. The longer he remains on the roster, the better odd’s he’ll have to make the 53 again.
Looking at the current roster, the odd’s are favorable to these top nine staring off the season. The remaining players Willie Wright, Bryan Witzmann, Brad Seaton, Brian Fineanganofo and Trevon Tate will most likely be working to earn a spot on the practice squad.
Coach Freddie Kitchens was, however, quick to praise the young group of rookies during the second day of camp.
Overall it looks like the early battle will be at left tackle with the Browns able to gain 6.5 million in cap space should they have the ability to move on from Robinson. Then a backup tackle and guard/center fulling out the roster.