If you follow professional football, you know Pro Football Focus (PFF) leads in so many different avenues. Their player rating system is unparalleled, unbiased, and pretty darn accurate.
Every spring they present their “Best Position Groups” list. This entails choosing and analyzing all 32 clubs and each position group within those teams. That is a lot of research and film study. Granted, these are projections going into the current season.
Here is their list for 2023:
- Best offensive backfield: Indianapolis Colts
- Best offensive line: Cleveland Browns
- Best secondary: Miami Dolphins
- Best defensive line: Philadelphia Eagles & New York Jets
One area not touched on was the best quarterback unit. One could gaze at the Kansas City Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes all by himself making that room great. But the real answer would have to be the Baltimore Ravens. After all, they possess two current rostered Pro Bowlers with Lamar Jackson as well as Tyler Huntley.
As far as great offensive lines, both the Eagles and Detroit Lions may have something to say about the Browns getting the top nod, but Cleveland will take it.
The line begins with their Pro Bowl guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller.
Bits has been named to five straight Pro Bowls and was First Team All-Pro in 2021 and 2022. Not bad for a second-round pick. His PFF grade is always high and last season he did not disappoint with an 87.5 rating.
Teller is a former seventh-round pick of the Buffalo Bills who came to Cleveland in a trade. He has gone to two consecutive Pro Bowls. His PFF grade for 2022 was 70.3 with 927 snaps played with four sacks allowed and committed six penalties.
As far as the tackles, Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills have had their issues staying on the field but when they do they perform very well. He played on 1,172 snaps with just one sack allowed and four penalties.
Conklin graded out last season at 66.7. He played 913 snaps and allowed two sacks, ranking him tied for 61st fewest. He also had 10 penalties which tied for the eighth most. Last year, Wills played 1,152 snaps and allowed six sacks, ranked 15th in the league. He also committed 10 penalties which were tied with Conklin. His overall grade was 62.9. The Browns took their time with exercising Wills’ fifth-year option but finally did.
There has been quite a bit of debate about the progress of Wills, who was taken with the 10th overall pick in the 2020 draft. The naysayers point to his inconsistent performances and effort. He finally put in an entire season without injury last year. The pros surround his excellent pass-blocking abilities.
The center position appears finally solved with the re-signing of Ethan Pocic. It was assumed nobody could fill J.T. Tretter’s big shoes, but Pocic took the reins in the first preseason game after an injury to Nick Harris and never looked back. Whereas Tretter was the group’s jokester, Pocic is all business all the time.
Pocic’s PFF grade was an impressive 78.9. He played 819 snaps, allowed just two sacks, and had only one penalty. The fact that he played at a high level is one reason Cleveland is at the top of this list.
Plus, the Browns have quality depth. They re-signed Michael Dunn who can play all five positions including center. The veteran Joe Haeg returns as a swing tackle while James Hudson is currently Conklin’s backup. Guard backups include Drew Forbes and Colby Gossett.
In the draft, a pair of Ohio State linemen were taken. OT Dawand Jones was taken in the fourth round while C Luke Wypler was a Round 6 selection and has since been labeled a draft steal. Dawson Deaton and Wes Martin are also depth.
Then let’s no forget that Cleveland employs the best offensive line coach in Bill Callahan.
The Browns return all five starters from last season, which should give every Cleveland fan some sort of positive confidence in this offense going forward.