Browns Top 5 Position Battles In Training Camp: #3 Right Guard
The Cleveland Browns were aggressive this offseason addressing the offensive tackle position, leaving just one spot on the starting offensive line still open - right guard.
Last year, the Browns went into training camp with Eric Kush essentially representing the floor for the position after Kevin Zeitler was traded. The team was hoping that someone could step up and usurp that spot, but that didn't happen. Former second round pick Austin Corbett was given every opportunity but was simply incapable.
Some other players were given reps there including Kyle Kalis and rookie Drew Forbes. Kalis suffered a concussion that knocked him out of the competition and Forbes showed some promise but wasn't quite ready to take over the job. Then, he suffered a knee injury at the end of the preseason that knocked him out for most of the year.
The Browns did some roster gymnastics to make it so Forbes could be designated to return from injured reserve, which allowed him to practice the last several weeks of the year.
Right as the team was finishing up its roster for the 2019 season, John Dorsey sent a 5th and 6th round pick to the Buffalo Bills for Wyatt Teller and a 7th round pick. It proved to be a really good trade for the Browns, as Teller took over right guard halfway through the year, which stabilized that side of the offensive line.
Teller deserves a ton of credit as he was acquired after playing left guard almost exclusively in his career, making the switch to the right side during the season while learning the offense.
While Kush struggled to avoid getting driven into the backfield, Teller was able to hold his ground in pass protection. Teller's run blocking was often inelegant and despite being a guy who can move a ton of weight in the gym, his functional power often proved underwhelming. There were some bright spots in his run blocking but it's an area he must improve if he's going to be a high quality starter.
Entering 2020, the Browns would be perfectly fine if they go with Teller. And if Jedrick Wills were to play at the level Teller did last year as a rookie, that would be a successful campaign. Tells, with a full offseason doing nothing but preparing for time at right guard, should be far more comfortable and effective. If he can get more out of his body in the running game, Teller could improve quite a bit.
Teller will have competition in the form of Drew Forbes. The second year guard came out of Southeastern Missouri State as a tackle, but the possibility always existed he could move inside. Fully embracing a wide zone scheme as well as the signing of Jack Conklin in free agency, Forbes goes from being a reasonable projection at tackle to becoming a prototypical guard. In terms of being able to fire off of the ball, get down field and generate power on the move, Forbes is ideal.
It's entirely a question of whether he's ready to take that step and become a full time starter. Forbes had some promising signs as a rookie, but the jump in competition he was making was substantial. In college, he often looked like Orlando Pace throwing people around, but he was largely playing against guys who were never going to be in the NFL to now facing the best of the best.
The interior of the defensive line for the Browns offers a high level of talent and a good proving ground for Forbes as well as providing an adequate contrast against Teller. Teller is ahead and has appeared in 23 games, starting 16 over the past two seasons. Forbes was on the field for nine preseason snaps, all on special teams, in his rookie season.
Whoever wins the job, the Browns will be in great shape on the offensive line. Teller's rookie deal runs through 2021 and Forbes' runs through 2022. It's a low cost position to balance out the expenses, both in salary cap and draft assets spent to build the rest of the line
There's no downside for the Browns, which is why this battle ranks ahead of linebacker. That might be the sexier competition to watch, but this is likely a situation where iron sharpens iron and the team is better for the competition. Linebacker, there's a possibility that none of those players are good enough for what the team needs to operate their defense.