Cameron Erving, one of the Cleveland Browns’ two first-round draft picks in the 2015 NFL Draft, has already been the starter at two different positions in his first two seasons. He is now hoping to make it three in three seasons, because he is not going to be starting at center after Cleveland signed JC Tretter to step into that role in 2017.
Finishing as a center in his college career, Erving got the opportunity to make a couple of starters at guard during his rookie season, but he had some pretty notable struggles in that department, including a lowlight instances in which he was bowled over on one play against the Steelers.
Erving entered his second season as the starting center after the Browns lost All-Pro center Alex Mack in free agency, but even before he got injured, he was not performing up to the level that one would hope of a player that you selected in the first round.
With Tretter now in place at center, and the Browns having brought in Kevin Zeitler and extended Joel Bitonio at the two starting guard positions, would seem to be running out of options. There is still Joe Thomas manning the left tackle position, of course.
But there is the right tackle spot that still remains the lone area of vulnerability along the Browns’ offensive line. After losing Mitchell Schwartz at that position last year, they relied primarily on Austin Pasztor to start there, whom they were so impressed by that he remains unsigned in free agency.
Instead, Cleveland is likely to turn to a number of options to compete for the right tackle position, and Head Coach Hue Jackson confirmed that Erving will be a leading candidate in that competition. “He’s willing to work. He wants to go out there and play”, his head coach said.
Erving did in fact already start at right tackle for the regular season finale, once again against the Steelers. And again he had his issues, most notably giving up a sack, soon after which he was rotated out of the lineup, a swap that Jackson said was already planned before the game.
The 6’5”, 313-pounder actually did spend time at tackle during his college career. During his redshirt sophomore season, he started 14 games at left tackle, and was a second-team All-American the following year. He started his senior season at tackle but moved to center during the year due to injury.
The Browns quite frankly don’t want to give up on yet another first-round draft pick. They have had far too many swings and misses for a team that has had so many picks in the top 32 over the course of the past several years.
If Erving can settle himself into the right tackle position, that would be a big win for this coaching staff, even though they weren’t responsible for drafting him. It could also help them solidify what on paper could be one of the best offensive lines in the league.