Two weeks ago, Pro Football Focus named Cleveland Browns rookie left guard Joel Bitonio to their All-Pro team. This past week, PFF wrapped up a few more of their award honors, including "rookie of the year," "All-Sophomore team," and "All Third-Year team." Bitonio continued to get the most love, but here is a rundown of how many Browns were honored in some capacity for their performance during the 2014 NFL season:
PFF Offensive Rookie of the Year
The honor went to WR Odell Beckham Jr, but Bitonio was the first runner up, just ahead of Cowboys offensive guard Zack Martin:
Bitonio got the nod over Martin due a better all-around effort as he graded at +22.4 overall including a +10.2 grade in pass protection and +11.7 in the running game. He ranked eighth in pass blocking efficiency at 97.9, surrendering a sack, three QB hits, and 11 hurries on 550 attempts.
Like Martin, Bitonio was consistently good from start to finish, posting only three negative grades and only one was worse than -1.0. The Browns had our sixth-ranked offensive line, and Bitonio stepped right in next to LT Joe Thomas to form one of the best left side duos in the league. Not only was Bitonio the best rookie offensive lineman, but he earned a spot as the first-team left guard on the PFF All-Pro team and he figures to be a cornerstone in Cleveland for years to come.
PFF Rookie of the Year
This one seems a bit redundant, but it includes defensive players too. Beckham came away with the top honor, and DT Aaron Donald was the first runner up (and the Defensive Rookie of the Year). Squarely behind them was Bitonio again, along with another writeup:
While Zack Martin was an excellent performer all season at guard, Bitonio was consistently just a little further in front in the rankings all year. He suffered from his worst two games of the season in the final two weeks (much like most of the Browns), but even with those included he ended the year ahead of Martin.
Bitonio did surrender a sack, though only one and it took him until Week 16 against Carolina to be beaten, and he did allow a little more pressure than Martin (15 total pressures including the sack), but his run blocking was superior, showing some truly dominant traits over the season. Like Martin, Bitonio has the ability to become one of the league’s best with even a small improvement going into his second season, though both players will need to avoid the sophomore slump that affected Detroit’s Larry Warford who was in the same position a year ago.
All-Pro Special Teams
It must be hell to grade these -- Pro Football Focus put together the 11 best players on the kickoff coverage team, with one of those being the kickoff kicker/punter. S Jordan Poyer (64 Snaps, +3.1) was named as an All-Pro player for one of those ten other positions, with PFF noting, "The safeties on kickoffs are generally the two players closest to each sideline, and take up a contain role to ensure the return doesn’t get outside of them, playing a key role in preventing big plays on kick returns."
Sometimes, these awards actually highlight how disappointing a particular draft class was. OLB Barkevious Mingo was selected to the All-Sophomore team as an edge rusher despite not being a prolific pass rusher.
Edge Rushers: Ezekiel Ansah (DET) and Barkevious Mingo (CLE) - Ansah is justifying the high draft pick, but you’d hope in years to come there might be a little more pressure and an increase in snaps. The selection of Mingo is an indication that this class has really yet to set the pass rushing world alight.
All Third-Year Team
The Browns had a pair of players honored who were in their third year of the NFL -- one on offense (RT Mitchell Schwartz) and one on defense (FS Tashaun Gipson).
Tackles: Kelvin Beachum (PIT) and Mitchell Schwartz (CLE) - Whether by luck or design the Steelers have found their left tackle of the future and that man is Beachum, one of the better pass-blocking tackles in the league. On the right side there weren’t as many candidates with the solid Schwartz beating out the weaker in pass protection Bobby Massie.
Safeties: Harrison Smith (MIN) and Tashaun Gipson (CLE) - Another PFF First Team All-Pro in the shape of Smith here who had a big year to prove himself well worth the first round pick. Gipson was another who had his season curtailed by injury, but his 787 snaps were more than enough to earn selection over George Iloka and Will Hill who both had good years.