The Cleveland Browns had exactly one winning season during future first-ballot Hall of Famer Joe Thomas’ career, and that was in his rookie year back in 2007. He retired following the 2017 season, during which Cleveland went 0-16 and he suffered the first real injury of his career, after having previously never missed a snap.
They managed to go 7-8-1 last season, their best record since 2007, however, and they got things started off with a rookie undrafted free agent at left tackle in Desmond Harrison. Harrison would start the first eight games, but he struggled often, and after Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were fired, Freddie Kitchens and company replaced Harrison with Greg Robinson, a former first-round bust that they acquired in June.
The play of the offensive line as a whole, of the offense, and of the left tackle position, all improved over the course of the second half of the year. While Robinson is now a pending free agent, there is belief that he could potentially be the answer at that spot.
Just ask Thomas himself.
“Greg did such a great job and he understood how Baker Mayfield played, how he needed his left tackle to play. And Greg was a like a sponge, the whole year learning from Bob Wylie, learning from those other guys in the room”, he said.
“To be able to step in and play as well as he did is not an easy thing, especially at that position and especially for a guy that’s kind of bounced around the league a little bit and hadn’t found his role and his niche. He did an amazing job and I can’t wait to see what he looks like next year with a full offseason of preparation”.
Robinson was the second-overall pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2014 and had been a full-time starter, primarily at left tackle, during his three years there, but he was traded to the Detroit Lions in 2017, during which time he had already been dealing with an injury. He only played six games before being released.
The Browns’ offensive line only allowed five sacks in total over the course of the final game games of the year, protecting rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield well. If they have a group of linemen that is stable—and every position from left guard on down is—then it would make sense to give Robinson strong consideration, even if they have already changed their offensive line coach.