For the most part, the current offensive line is one of the strongest parts of the entire Cleveland Browns roster. Center Alex Mack, who the team just placed the transition tag on, is a top-3 center. The same can be said for left tackles Joe Thomas. Also, on the left side, the team showed its confidence in left guard John Greco, who just signed a five-year contract extension.
The right side of the offensive line is not as positive. Tackle Mitchell Schwartz has struggled, and could face competition for his starting job. At the guard position, the consensus around the organization is that Shawn Lauvao will not be returning and resigning him is not a high priority for the franchise.
In 2013, Lauvao struggled with injury issues, and was not the same lineman as he had been the past couple of seasons. He missed the first five games of the season, the first time he did not play in all 16 games since his rookie season back in 2010.
He was never really the same since returning, despite playing almost every down. Lauvao is not a very good run blocker, and also gave up 18 carriers and four sacks. He’s also not very light on his feet, and doesn’t really seem to fit in new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s fast-paced, no-huddle offense, which favors smaller and quicker lineman.
Behind Lauvao is second year player Garret Gilkey, who has only started one game in his NFL career, and came from Chadron State. Therefore, he hasn’t really faced much NFL-level talent in his career, up to this point. Oh, by the way, Gilkey is 6-6 and 320 lbs., so he isn’t really what Shanahan would envision as his dream lineman.
So where do the Browns go? Well, there aren’t many guards that would fit in the team’s offensive system currently listed as free agents, so it’s more likely that the Brownies will target a guard in the NFL Draft.
My top target would be Brandon Thomas from Clemson. I don’t think the team should go after a guard in the first or second round, so that’s why Thomas appeals so much to me. There’s a chance that he could be available in the third round, which would be a perfect spot for the Browns to grab him. He also comes from an offensive system at Clemson that revolved last season around a fast-paced offense lead by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Therefore, I think he would fit right into Shanahan’s spread them out offense.
Where the squad goes at this position is key, because if the team can sure up an already strong offensive line, it would only ease the transition to the NFL for a possible rookie quarterback that could transform into the face of the team for years to come.