In Part 2 of our training camp preview for the Cleveland Browns' offensive line, we are taking a look at the contenders for the starting right guard position.
6. JASON PINKSTON - COMPETING FOR STARTING OFFENSIVE GUARD POSITION
Could this be the year in which Jason Pinkston ends up being the odd man out? After starting all 16 games as a rookie in 2011, a blood clot cut his 2012 season short after 6 starts. Last year, Pinkston was all recovered heading into training camp and was excited to begin the regular season...and that's when the dreaded "high ankle sprain" struck.
Pinkston was placed on the injured reserve, designated-to-return list. He only ended up playing three games all season, and now he's entering the final year of his rookie contract. With Joel Bitonio projected to start at one of the guard positions, Pinkston will really have to look like a natural in the zone blocking scheme in order to win a starting job.
At this point, it's questionable whether he'll have the best footwork of the bunch to take on that role, or if he'll be stuck in a backup role. A backup guard position isn't even guaranteed, though, given the competition for those spots on the roster. I wish Pinkston the best and it'd be nice to see him get back to his form, but I just anticipate the Browns going a different direction.
Final Roster Odds: 75%
7. GARRETT GILKEY - COMPETING FOR STARTING OFFENSIVE GUARD POSITION
You certainly can't say that Garrett Gilkey is timid. A seventh-round pick in 2013, Gilkey played in 6 games last year but only started in 1 of them -- the finale against Pittsburgh.
Gilkey made headlines this offseason for getting into a one-on-one fight with Browns NT Phil Taylor during practice. Punches were thrown and hair was pulled in what was deemed one of the more memorable in-team fights in recent history. Fighting won't win him a roster spot, but the level of confidence he has this year compared to last year just might:
"It’s a night-and-day difference," said Gilkey, speaking on his improvements from a year ago. "What I’ve learned and the concepts, and a big piece of it, too, is my confidence knowing that I can play at this level. That’s something that has always been a knock on me, and I know that I proved that I can."
While rookie Joel Bitonio was out with a high ankle sprain, Gilkey was the guy who saw most of the first-team reps in the offseason programs, along with John Greco. Gilkey said Chardon State used a ton of zone in college, and he his attitude shows he's ready to seize the opportunity. Will his talk match his level of play in camp, though?
Final Roster Odds: 75%
8. PAUL MCQUISTAN - COMPETING FOR STARTING OFFENSIVE GUARD POSITION
Paul McQuistan was a third-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. He spent three years with the Raiders and then some time with the Jaguars before signing with the Browns for a month during the 2010 season. McQuistan then signed with the Seahawks in 2011 and won a Super Bowl ring last year.
McQuistan has started 40 games over the past three years with the Seahawks, including 14 this past year. He did not start in any of the playoff games, though. In the NFC Championship and in the Super Bowl, he saw half the snaps in the lineup as part of a planed rotation by head coach Pete Carroll. He was one of Pro Football Focus' worst-rated free agent offensive lineman this offseason, scoring even way lower than Oniel Cousins did. Part of that might have had to do with the fact that he played some tackle and guard; he was deemed much worse at tackle than at guard.
In terms of experience, McQuistan has the versatility to be a backup guard or a tackle. The fact that he's started 40 games in three years might make one thing that he could start in Cleveland, but I just don't see it. He's here for depth.
Final Roster Odds: 60%
Tomorrow, we'll look at the primary contenders for the backup offensive tackle role. Today's poll asks who you would like to see start at right guard, assuming that Joel Bitonio starts at left guard.