As of right now, the Cleveland Browns kinda sorta don’t exactly have a left tackle. For the better part of the past two seasons, Greg Robinson has filled that role, but he wasn’t going to be retained even before he got arrested for trying to smuggle a rather large amount of drugs across the border.
Cleveland did spend big on the tackle position in free agency, but that money went to Jack Conklin, who is a right tackle. That displaces former Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Chris Hubbard, who has been playing there the past two years. It’s kind of hard to imagine a right tackle being usurped only to move to the left side, isn’t it?
Yet new Browns general manager Andrew Berry recently suggested that is a possibility, telling reporters, “I would not make any assumptions” about the team drafting a left tackle, which is what many on the outside have been expecting them to do since even before free agency began, or at least once they signed Conklin.
Berry did note that Conklin himself has played some left tackle before, though not a significant amount at all. “Chris Hubbard has played left tackle before”, he went on. “Kendall Lamm has played left tackle. I would not make any assumptions about what we may or may not do moving forward. My goal is to make sure that we are adding talent across the roster and adding competition across the roster”.
Frankly, if the Browns’ plans are to keep the left tackle position in-house, then that’s foolish. You don’t spend lavish sums on a right tackle and expect him to seamlessly transition to left tackle. You don’t move an average right tackle to the other side and expect good results, no offense to Hubbard. And you don’t go into the year with some relative unknown like Lamm.
Left tackle is easily the team’s biggest, most glaring weakness up and down the roster, so if Berry’s job is to acquire talent across the spectrum, it should start where it’s weakest. You have a first-overall pick at quarterback coming off a disappointing sophomore year in part because the blocking was weak. You have two Pro Bowl wide receivers and a pair of pass-catching tight ends.
All of this goes to waste if you can’t properly pass protect. The Browns would be foolish not to make finding a left tackle their top priority—right if right-side edge defenders are not exactly a huge strength within the division right now.