The NFL Combine begins this week and new Browns General Manager Andrew Berry will step up to the podium Tuesday afternoon to address the media. Surely on the mind of most fans and members of the media is how the 32-year old will approach fixing the offensive line, particularly the edges, which were absolutely dismal at times in 2019. Luckily, there are several tackle prospects who project to be solid NFL starters and the Browns are in a good position to land one of them at number 10 overall. Here’s the top five:
- Jedrick Wills, Alabama (6′ 5″ 320 lbs.) – The Alabama product has played 28 straight games protecting Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside. He’s not the biggest, fastest, or strongest, but he has tremendous functional strength. Watching him play, one can tell he knows how to use his body with discipline and control. He rarely gets beat in pass protection, gets to the second level with ease and has great lateral quickness. This is especially important for Cleveland because Kevin Stefanski’s wide zone offense calls for linemen who can move. There is a lot of Joe Thomas in Wills’ game and he is the best tackle in the draft, at this point.
- Mekhi Becton, Louisville (6′ 7″ 370 lbs.)– For as much of a behemoth as this man is, he can really move. NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein describes Becton as having “nimble feet and functional athleticism…” and able to “handle either tackle spot.” He gets the second spot because of his potential to be an absolute mauler on the edge. If he stays in ample shape and adjusts well to NFL talent, he could be dominant at the next level.
- Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (6′ 5″ 322 lbs.)- Wirfs started at right tackle going back to his true freshman season at Iowa, where great offensive lineman are churned out like clockwork. Like former Hawkeye Brandon Scherff in the 2015 Draft, Wirfs appears ready to step in and immediately contribute at the pro level. He will likely turn heads at the combine this week, as he possesses impressive physical gifts. The reason he gets the third slot is that there are questions of whether he can flip to the left tackle spot in the NFL.
- Andrew Thomas, Georgia (6′ 5″ 320 lbs.)- Despite concerns about his footwork in pass protection, Thomas is plenty worthy of the number 10 pick if the other tackles are already taken off the board. A three-year starter at Georgia, he has a frame that translates to “franchise left tackle” in the NFL. He may not be the best fit for Van Pelt/Stefanski’s offense, as the others, particularly Wills, are much better moving laterally. But for my 4th ranked OT in a deep class, Thomas has great value.
- Josh Jones, Houston (6′ 6″ 310 lbs.)- Jones is fairly raw in his skill set but has all the tools to be a great OT in the league. He’s known for his impressive athleticism for his size, length, and run blocking potential. This is an upside pick, so Jones will need to be coached and developed to reach his ceiling. If the Browns happen to trade down a few spots from 10, Jones is a guy they’ll be looking to select, given the depth of this year’s class.
*Height and weight measurements courtesy of Kevin Hanson at Sports Illustrated