2012 NFL Draft: 7 Reasons Cleveland Browns Must Prioritize Offensive Line

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2012 NFL Draft: 7 Reasons Cleveland Browns Must Prioritize Offensive Line
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Joe Thomas: The Browns' best selection of the past decade.

“Linemen are literally the unsung heroes of the game. Their situation is analogous to the infantry in warfare. They do the hard, bitter fighting for victory. As the generals reap the headlines in war, the backs reap the headlines in football. Yet in their hearts, the generals and backs know that victory and the accolades came to them through the work of the footsoldiers and linemen.”Gomer Jones

Reconstructing the Cleveland Browns from the ash-heap of the post-Braylon/K2/Romeo apocalypse always figured to be a two- to three-year process. That process was delayed another two seasons as Eric Mangini imported recycled mediocre veterans from the Jets, depriving the younger homegrown talent from valuable opportunities.

The Browns' relative conservatism with respect to free agency perhaps demonstrates the lessons learned between 1999 and 2012—draft, draft, draft.

When the Browns parted ways with Tony Pashos, the right tackle position became vacant as it does almost annually. Whether Pashos, John St. Clair or Kevin Shaffer, the Browns simply have never enjoyed the consistent services of a quality right tackle, and always seem to be settling for free agency table scraps to serve as one- or two-year stop gaps.

A right tackle's primary role is to dominate the point of attack in the rushing game. The AFC North very often goes to one of the NFL's top rushing teams. Surprise: the Browns have never won the AFC North.

For the 2012 NFL Draft, the Browns would do well to consider a permanent solution at right tackle.

You can follow me on Twitter @StepanekButton

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