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Jack Conklin has faced stiff competition, played well since return

The return of Conklin has been vital to the Browns offensive line.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns season has not gone the way they would have hoped but there have still been positives. Thankfully, the season is far from over and no one in the AFC or AFC North is running away with the conference or division.

While the offense isn’t always firing on all cylinders on the important downs, the run game continues to be elite while the passing attack is better than many expected despite producing near the bottom of the league yardage.

As a whole, the offense is tied for the fourth most yards in the league with the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs team. Above those two teams are the surprising Detroit Lions along with the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills.

One player that has impressed over the last two weeks is right tackle Jack Conklin. Despite missing the first two games recovering from injury, Conklin stepped right in and played in 100% of the team’s snaps over the last two weeks. While James Hudson III was an adequate substitute, Conklin has faced very good competition and been very successful as this chart shows:

To help you out so you don’t have to zoom in too much, Conklin is the farthest player to the right. That means, in his two games, Conklin has had the most difficult assignment of any tackle in the NFL and succeeded quite nicely while doing so.

His bookend, Jedrick Wills, is found near the middle of the graph with higher than average competition but lower than average quality of play.

Conklin was also Pro Football Reference’s second-highest graded Browns player in Week 4 with Wills getting the bronze:

If he stays healthy, Cleveland may have a difficult decision with Conklin at the end of the year when he is set to hit free agency. The team has been preparing Hudson for the role and has some salary cap concerns after this year. Conklin’s injury history, two major knee injuries, makes another long-term deal risky. On the other hand, Conklin has been a stud at right tackle and it would be a major risk to let him walk away.

Could we see another midseason deal between GM Andrew Berry and an offensive lineman like he did with both Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller? If he stays healthy and is willing to take a reasonable contract, it could happen with Conklin. His great start could push Berry into action.