Browns 2022 Offseason Roster Deep Dive – OTs

Here is the third annual installment of my Browns offseason roster deep dive. I will be going through the Browns roster and how they can best improve/fill all 53 roster spots. Every Monday and Wednesday I will be releasing a different position room.

For every position room, I will outline how the NFL structures that position on the roster. Also how the Browns might vary from the standard based on what we have seen in 2020 & 2021. The players we have in four categories: starter, rotation (play some snaps), depth (injury backup/special teams), and other (likely cut). Then I will lay out the options currently on the roster, available in FA as well as via the draft for all 53 spots.

Offensive Tackle

The average NFL team has 9.0 OLs on their roster.
2020 (4) – Jack Conklin, Chris Hubbard, Kendall Lamm, Jedrick Wills Jr.
2021 (4) – Jedrick Wills Jr., Jack Conklin, Chris Hubbard, James Hudson III

I would expect four of them to be assigned to the offensive tackle position. Every team will go into the season with two starters locked in. They need to be confident the third tackle can start when injury strikes. Whereas the fourth spot is much more about development.

Starting LT: Jedrick Wills

Roster – Wills performed at just below league average (50/59 PFF) in his rookie season which was what you would expect. He followed up in year two with a slight improvement (39/57 PFF) despite the injuries he was carrying. Year Three is massive for Wills as it is next offseason when they decide to activate the fifth-year option and can extend him.

Starting RT: Jack Conklin

Roster – Conklin was fantastic during his first season with the Browns and while putting up a second good season he was hit with the injury bug. He only played 361 snaps which are the lowest of his career, and the second time below 900 in his career. The Browns will need to decide if he is healthy, if they feel he isn’t going to be ready until after the start of the season they might want to cut him and save $12m on the final year of his contract. Since the team has extended their two guards it is unlikely Conklin will be extended again after the 2022 season.

How To Replace Conklin?

Joel Bitonio started two games at left tackle this season and his average PFF grade was enough to be the second-best tackle for the season and rival Joe Thomas’ numbers. While he might not hold up those elite numbers across a season, any questions that he will just be average at tackle were blown out of the water. If I’m Berry I’m meeting with Bitonio & his agent this offseason to offer $2-3 million a year in bonuses when he plays left tackle in case it doesn’t work and he moves back inside. You could move Bitonio to left tackle and flip Wills to right tackle. It is easier to replace a guard than a tackle when you have someone like Dunn on the roster producing just above-average performances in 2021.

If the Browns wanted to replace Conklin with a tackle they could look at a one-year bridge with a player like Jason Peters, Cornelius Lucas, Bobby Massie, or Brandon Shell. They could then find a longer-term solution in Hudson or another draft pick.

Depth OT: ?

Roster – James Hudson had an underwhelming first season with the Browns before ending with a dominant display in Week 18 against Cincinnati’s backups. If the Browns keep Conklin they might want someone more experienced as their third tackle because of the risk he is injured again. Hudson was always meant to spend the year developing and not playing.

FA – If they are happy with his health then don’t be surprised to see they bring Chris Hubbard back. He can be their sixth offensive lineman and fill in at every spot. In 2020 he was PFF’s 11th best guard and could still produce before his injury. The Browns have more insight into his health than anyone else they could be happier offering him a deal than another team. If not Hubbard, a name like Cornelius Lucas or a veteran could be added.

Depth OT: ?

Roster – If they bring a veteran back at offensive tackle three then this spot will automatically be Hudson’s and don’t expect them to draft someone unless they fall in love late on the third day.

Draft – If they feel good about Hudson or move on from Conklin then they could easily add a tackle as high as the compensatory pick acquired by Minnesota hiring Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager which will be at the end of the third round.

Other: Alex Taylor & Elijah Nkansah

Check back Wednesday for the Interior Offensive Line deep dive.

Any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @JackDuffin. The DMs are open for any salary cap/roster construction questions you have.

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