With Bill Callahan coaching the offensive line, the Cleveland Browns should always have a leg up on the competition. Callahan isn’t enough. In the NFL it is both X’s and O’s and the Jimmy’s and Joe’s.
For 2023, and seemingly, 2024, the Browns offensive line is set with Jedrick Wills, Joel Bitonio, Ethan Pocic, Wyatt Teller and Jack Conklin starting (from left to right on the line). After 2024, and perhaps even before, Cleveland’s line may look significantly different. Wills is only under contract through ‘24, Bitonio will be 34 years old going into ‘25, Teller’s cap numbers are big in his early 30s and Conklin has a significant injury history.
Enter James Hudson III, Luke Wypler and Dawand Jones.
Hudson has drawn rave reviews as the Browns backup left tackle during training camp. Going into his third year, GM Andrew Berry could be deciding between extending Wills or Hudson when both are free agents after next season.
Wypler and Jones are both rookies but both have shown to have high upside during training camp and in the first preseason game. Jones in particular has gotten a lot of love for his play:
.@browns @dawandj79 Big Thanos had an impressive debut. Played every snap and went up against top tiered talent. Never saw him fatigue deep into the 4th. Wanna see him next week v @Eagles #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/6nJ04j8WIj— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 6, 2023
Cleveland’s offense leads the league in overall cap cost this year. If the three backups continue to show development during the season, trading one or more of the costly starters could help lower the cap needs and bring back assets. Given the dearth of good offensive line play, Wills, Pocic and Conklin (as well as Teller) could help acquire a starter at a different position or a day two draft pick.
For now, Browns fans can get excited that the team seems to have depth where most franchises struggle to even find five starters. A great thing in case of injury and, potentially, an even better thing for the team’s future.
Assuming Hudson is the left tackle, Wypler is the center and Jones is the right tackle, which player do you think is a starter first for the Browns? How soon would you be okay trading one of the veterans to make room for a younger player?