Cleveland Browns' Offensive Line: Spotlighting the Men in the Trenches

Daniel WolfSenior Writer IApril 30, 2010

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 01: Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears is double-teamed blocked by Joe Thomas #73 and Eric Steinbach #65 of the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field on November 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Browns 30-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Everyone loves offense, however, one of the most forgotten areas of the offense is also one of the most important, the offensive line.

The O-line is as important to a team as any other area, because without blocking,ย  there is nothing since defenses will have a field day, as seen in past teams with bad lines, like in 1999 when poor Tim Couch had one in front of him.

At least now in 2010, the Cleveland Browns have a solid O-line. Yes, they had some issues on the right side in the first half of the 2009 season, but they got better after moving a few guys around.

After making three additions to the line with right tackle Tony Pashos, center Eric Ghiaciuc, and rookie tackle/guard Shawn Lauvao, the Browns look to be better off this season than is the past, especially with a new sense of depth on the line.

Obviously, left tackle and three-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas is the rock of the group with left guard Eric Steinbach, his partner in crime, right next to him.

Alex Mack is next to Steinbach, and after struggling for the beginning of 2009, he turned his rookie season around and will be the anchor in the middle for years to come.

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Thomas, Steinbach, and Mack make up what could very well be the strongest left side of any line in the NFL.

Continuing on to right guard, the Browns let go Hank Fraley, which was no surprise since he was let go with the Eagles when Tom Heckert was the general manager there, too.

Floyd Womack is most likely pencilled in as the starter right now, but Lauvao could push him for that spot. Womack showed some inconsistencies in 2009 at guard, but he did perform better when he moved over to right tackle.

Pashos rounds out the final piece of the puzzle at right tackle, and as long as he has stayed healthy, he has been a top right tackle in the NFL in past years.

Many were surprised that the Browns did not address picking up a future right tackle in the draft, but they still have *gulp* John St. Clair as Pashos's backup. However, St. Clair had some rough times in 2009, getting benched for Womack, who started several games at the end of 2009.

With the pick of Lauvao, the Browns are improving their line for the future and are looking for big things from this group in 2010. The projected starters average in at 318 pounds, but more intriguing is that having both Womack and Pashos on the right gives the Browns two lineman over 330 pounds.

Look for many running plays designed to take advantage of those two 330-plus pounders on the right side. The Browns will look to move opposing defenses and open up some big holes for the Jerome Harrison/James Davis/Montario Hardesty three-headed running attack.

The biggest challenge will be against Baltimore, who added a 350-pound defensive lineman, Terrence Cody. The Browns' offensive line will have its hands full for at least two games in 2010 since Cody will be lining up next to Haloti Ngata, who himself is over 330 pounds.

With an new style of offense that is getting adapted from what it was in 2009 to incorporate the West Coast style of offense, it will be up to the offensive line to make it effective. As long at they can keep defenders off of quarterback Jake Delhomme's back and open up holes for the backs, they should do just fine.

Other backups on the Browns' offensive line are Billy Yates, Pat Murray, and undrafted free agents Casey Bender (SDSU) and Joel Reinders (Waterloo).