CLEVELAND – A trendy mock draft pick for the Browns is an offensive tackle at No. 19 overall. Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz isn’t surprised.
“That kind of seems to be the chatter every year,” said Schwartz, a second-round pick in 2012 who has started the last three years. “You get used to it by now.”
Any conversation about drafting a lineman seems to shift the conversation to Schwartz, mainly because his name isn’t Joe Thomas. The Browns aren’t drafting a tackle to replace Thomas, at least not right now, when he still has good years left. Considering Schwartz’s free-agency status after 2015, it’s fair to wonder whether what the presence of a new tackle – that’s still a big if – means for Schwartz’s future in Cleveland.
That conversation doesn’t have to be so pointed. There’s broader context. Center Alex Mack can opt out of his contract after next year, Thomas and right guard John Greco have a combined 15 years in the league and the Browns want to foster competition at arguably their most successful position. Plus, Schwartz did some good things last year. He’s not the problem on offense.
The Browns could have a bevy of possible tackle options at No. 19, including Miami’s Ereck Flowers, LSU’s La'el Collins, Pitt’s T.J. Clemmings and Florida’s D.J. Humphries. Humphries told ESPN he has a private workout with the Browns, and WalterFootball.com reports that Flowers is one of the Browns’ 30 in-house visitors.
As for interior linemen, Florida State center/guard Cameron Erving is an intriguing prospect.
Schwartz, who says he still feels at home at right tackle, doesn’t shy away from the possibility of the team drafting a lineman high. He believes bringing in new players would strengthen the group.
“I think the offensive line is the strength of the team,” Schwartz said. “You can always look to strengthen it more. We have a really strong room, a lot of guys who can play.”
(As a side note, Schwartz did some good work for a local Jewish school and a fourth-grader who looked up to him.)
As for Schwartz’s play, Pro Football Focus named him to its All-Third Year team. PFF calls Schwartz’s play “solid.”
I thought Mitchell [Schwartz] had a good year for us,” Pettine said at the NFL combine in February, when asked about the possibility of the team upgrading a tackle spot through the draft. “Had some plays he’d want to take back, but we feel good about where our offensive line is.”
In August, the Browns claimed injured tackle Michael Bowie, a former Seahawks lineman, off waivers. Pettine said he’s eager to see what Bowie can do.