The Browns are looking to get their offensive line fixed. They gave Jack Conklin a big contract, and they used the 10th pick of the draft on Jedrick Wills. That should nail down the two tackle spots. Or will it?
Conklin seems fine, and I won’t speak much to him here. He had some injury problems at Tennessee (causing them to not even pick up his fifth-year option) but he cranked it up pretty good last year. He’ll start at right tackle.
But Jedrick Wills is the more important guy, and with a lot more risk of failure.
I always fall into the trap of thinking that if an offensive lineman played at Alabama, dominating college football, he must be a savings-bond safe choice. It’s those big bodies up front, after all, that have been blowing open the holes over the last 10 years for guys like Derrick Henry, Trent Richardson, Bo Scarbrough and Josh Jacobs.
But as I look over the drafts from previous years, I notice that the hit rate instead has been remarkably bad for these guys.
In the Nick Saban era, 11 offensive linemen have been selected in the first, second or third round. So far, those guys combined have generated one Pro Bowl appearance – Ryan Kelly for the Colts last year.
Now a couple of these players haven’t stepped on the field yet. Not Wills, and not Jonah Williams (who missed his rookie season last year). And the Colts are happy with Kelly. But I would say that for the other eight picks, there isn’t a one where the team wished it had chosen someone else with the selection.
Not that all of these guys have been complete busts. James Carpenter, D.J. Fluker and Andre Smith have all started at least 88 games. But for where they were selected, the teams were hoping for a lot more.
I’m not trying to jinx Jedrick Wills. What happened to those other guys doesn’t necessarily have any relation to what he’ll do. But at this point, as he heads into his career, he doesn’t look any more promising than Smith, Fluker and Warmack. He actually maybe looks a little riskier, given that he’ll be playing left tackle after playing on the right in college.
|ALABAMA BLOCKERS IN FIRST 3 ROUNDS|
|2009||6||T Andre Smith, Cin.||98+||4 yrs with 10+ starts|
|2009||77||G Antoine Caldwell, Hou.||19||4 yrs in league|
|2010||98||G Mike Johnson, Atl.||1||4 yrs in league|
|2011||25||T James Carpenter, Sea.||108+||switched to G in 2nd yr|
|2013||11||T D. J. Fluker, S.D.||88+||switched to G in 3rd yr|
|2013||10||G Chance Warmack, Ten.||51+||4 yrs with Ten.|
|2014||44||T Cyrus Kouandjio, Buff.||8||5 yrs in league|
|2016||18||• C Ryan Kelly, Ind.||51+||Pro Bowl in 2019|
|2017||34||T Cam Robinson, Jac.||31+||torn ACL in 2018|
|2019||11||T Jonah Williams, Cin.||0+||torn labrum|
|2020||10||T Jedrick Wills, Clev.||?||?|