The Cleveland Browns leveraged their power in the waiver wire again on Monday, claiming offensive tackle Zach Banner off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts. To make room for the move, the club placed offensive tackle Rod Johnson on injured reserve.
Banner (6-8, 360 lbs) was a 4th round pick this year (No. 137 overall) by the Colts. Cleveland was in desperate need of some depth at offensive tackle, as the only healthy backup tackle they had on the roster was Zach Sterup.
Our Colts affiliate thought that Banner would make their roster, but only after he had shown some progress during the camp and the preseason after a lackluster start to camp. According to Pro Football Focus, Banner had mastered his pass blocking pretty well this preseason, but was awful in run blocking:
Banner had his struggles this preseason, grading out at just 58.4 over throughout August. Where he really struggled was as a run blocker, with his 37.0 run blocking grade ranking 188th out of 192 offensive tackles.
If a team are going to pick him up, for the practice squad or active roster, it will be because of his pass blocking, where his grade of 76.2 ranked 14th throughout preseason. His pass blocking efficiency rating of 95.7, which measures pressure on a per snap basis with weighting towards sacks, was tied for 6th among rookie offensive tackles.
Even if Cleveland just takes a flier on him for a couple of weeks, it can’t hurt to evaluate him. Before the draft, Dane Bruglar of CBS Sports actually believed that the USC product would be a better fit at guard in the NFL.
Johnson (knee) will be eligible to return from IR later this season, if the Browns opt to use of their two spots on him.
In an unrelated move, the Browns also released safety Ed Reynolds from injured reserve. Cleveland could bring him back in a couple of weeks if no one else signs him.