Every Super Bowl-caliber team has a left tackle that can hold their weight against top NFL edge rushers. The Browns are hoping that Jedrick Wills can take that next step this season and become a franchise tackle.
Everything Wills put out last season was promising. He made rookie mistakes here and there but justified the Browns selecting him No. 10 overall. The team is now counting on him to become a consistent tackle that they can count on week in and week out.
According to reports, Wills has seen a lot of edge rusher Myles Garrett every day in camp. While that isn't a fun job, it has prepared Wills for the upcoming season. Garrett is one of the top edge defenders in the NFL, and Wills likely won't see a harder challenge this season.
When asked about what practicing against Garrett was like, Wills responded:
He has also seen a fair bit of edge Jadeveon Clowney during camp. Clowney and Garrett are one of the stronger edge duos in the entire NFL, so Wills is getting crucial reps every day.
Last season it became apparent that Wills was a quality piece. The Browns often ran naked bootlegs to his side of the field, which is a big ask for an inexperienced tackle. He handled the challenge well and rarely gave up leverage on these plays.
Wills even improved in the run game over the course of the year. His body and athleticism were made for the zone concepts that the Browns run, meaning that he could get downhill and push defenders into the second level.
Year two for Wills is going to be about sanding off the rough edges. There were periods throughout the course of the year where he struggled with consistency. Rookie tackles usually fall victim to this, and the more reps he gets, the more this will fade.
Penalties were also a big issue for Wills a year ago. He would often false start and commit unnecessary holding penalties, which would often negate big gains down the field.
If rookie Jedrick Wills was the ceiling, then the Browns still have a quality tackle on their hands. However, it seems that there is still another level for Wills to break into. He has all of the measurables and athleticism to become a high-end starting tackle, but he needs to continue to work on the little things.
If the Browns hope to keep Baker Mayfield upright this season, that starts with Wills. Left tackle is the premier position along the offensive line, and a quality player there can change the direction of a team.
Word back from camp tells us that Wills has been taking his losses daily, but that is a part of the development process. In his press conference, Wills noted that edge rushers league-wide only come back with one counter, but Myles Garrett is throwing three and four moves on him at a time.
The staff felt that Wills didn't need the extra preseason reps, which is a good sign. The experience he is gaining in practice is incredibly vital, and if the staff feels that he is already well along in the process, he should be in for a big sophomore season.