In Part 2 of our offensive line preview, we look at Shon Coleman, Cameron Erving, John Greco, and Spencer Drango, three of whom have starting experience.
5. Shon Coleman - Competing to be Starting Right Tackle
Height: 6-7 | Weight: 310 lbs | Age: 25
Experience: 2 years | College: Auburn
Last year, the Browns put Austin Pasztor in the starting right tackle job for 15 games, where he performed better than expected on a low bar. He is still a free agent to this day, but it’s a position the team needed to upgrade. The team’s offseason investments were allocated to both guard positions and at center, leaving right tackle to come down to an in-house competition.
Entering training camp, this is about an even of a competition as one could get. The person who appears in line to receive the first reps is Coleman, a 3rd round pick from 2016 (No. 76 overall). He missed many of the team's offseason programs last year as he rehabilitated from a knee injury from college. Although he did participate in training camp, the feeling was that he would basically be red-shirted for his rookie season so he could be ready to compete for a job in 2017.
Coleman did see action for 38 snaps at right tackle in the second half of Week 17 last year, which DBN broke down in-depth here. He has said that he’s more comfortable at left tackle, but he felt he got much more comfortable at right tackle as last season went along. Also fascinating is the fact that a year ago, before his final season of college football, Myles Garrett acknowledged that Coleman was the toughest left tackle he went up against.
Final Roster Odds: 99%
6. Cameron Erving - Competing to be Starting Right Tackle
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 313 lbs | Age: 24
Experience: 3 years | College: Florida State
In 2015, Erving was one of the Browns’ first-round draft picks. Unfortunately for him, fans were largely against the pick at the time because of what the selection stood for from a front office perspective. Alex Mack was still going to be on the team in 2015, but could opt out in 2016. The belief was that the team already bought into the fact that Erving was a long-term insurance policy at center...which was a little troubling because he had more experience at tackle in college.
Injuries forced Erving to play guard as a rookie, where he was disastrous. Last season, after Mack’s departure, Erving took over the center position. I believe that he performed better than expected, but it was a low bar to begin with, and overall, the team still desperately needed to improve at the position (which they appear to have done with J.C. Tretter). The Browns are partially at fault for how they’ve handled Erving through a regime change, having him go back-and-forth between several positions.
Erving will now be training at his third position in as many years. The good thing is that being at right tackle takes him back to his college roots, and presumably where he is best suited. I am 100 percent behind the idea of forgetting about the past with Erving, and letting he and Coleman compete for the starting job in camp.
Final Roster Odds: 75%
7. John Greco - Veteran Offensive Guard
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 318 lbs | Age: 32
Experience: 10 years | College: Toledo
It’ll be interesting to see how the Browns handle Greco this year. He has the third-longest tenure on the team, dating back to 2011. The only players who have been here longer are cornerback Joe Haden and left tackle Joe Thomas, and he was a pretty durable starter prior to suffering a Lisfranc injury in 2016 to miss the final four games.
Greco has consistently been an above average lineman — in fact, this past season, he graded as a Top-20 run blocker in the NFL. If he is able to recover from his foot injury, then he’s still a starting-caliber lineman for someone in the NFL. The question then comes down to what the Browns’ front office does about that. There is zero chance that Greco will start ahead of Joel Bitonio or Kevin Zeitler. Does Cleveland retain the luxury of having him as one of the better backups in the NFL? Or, do they send him away out of respect like they did to Gary Barnidge, which allows the team’s future depth (i.e. Spencer Drango) to take on that prominent backup role?
The thing that I’ve continuously wondered, but that no one has really suggested, is whether Greco could actually contend for the starting right tackle job at some point. It’s been a long time since he’s played that position, but I’d be tempted to think he can handle it.
Ultimately, I would prefer that Cleveland retains Greco. He is in the final year of his contract and could probably start at any position on the line in the event someone gets hurt. The amount of money the team invested on the offensive line this offseason tells me how important the group is — if someone goes down, they should covet the fact that they can plug in a guy like Greco at minimal expense.
Final Roster Odds: 75%
8. Spencer Drango - Younger Reserve Offensive Guard
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 320 lbs | Age: 24
Experience: 2 years | College: Baylor
A fifth-round pick in 2016, Drango played way more than anyone could have anticipated due to the early-season injury to Joel Bitonio. The Browns in general had more rookie snaps than any team in the NFL, and Drango was a bit part of that — he started 9 games, totaling 599 snaps. What people may not realize is that Drango was the second-best rated rookie guard in the NFL last year:
He also graded better as a run blocker than a pass blocker. While Bitonio is still recovering from his own Lisfranc injury a year ago, Drango has continued to fill in with the first-team offense at left guard. Once Bitonio is a full-go, which could be at the start of training camp, Drango will no-doubt be considered one of the team’s top two backup guards — but could he also be in the mix for the starting right tackle job? There haven’t been signs of it yet, but I don’t expect the team to rule out any options at right tackle.
Final Roster Odds: 100%
We already ran a poll in which fans clearly favored Shon Coleman to Cameron Erving as the team’s starting right tackle. For the heck of it, I’m going to introduce two other competitors into the mix for this poll.
Which player would you like to see start at right tackle?
This poll is closed