Finding the Fits: Browns love OL Corbett's versatility

Austin Corbett can at least back up multiple positions as a rookie.Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

By Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

This is part of a series -- Finding the Fits -- in which NFLDraftScout.com will review the more intriguing picks made during the 2018 NFL Draft. The goal is to identify one relatively unheralded player per team who appears to be a good schematic fit and, therefore, more likely to be a surprise contributor early in his pro career.

Cleveland Browns' best fit: Austin Corbett, OL, Nevada, selected No. 33 overall (second round)

In Cleveland, all eyes are on No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield.

But the rookie who appears to be in the best position to start the regular-season opener against Pittsburgh is Austin Corbett, selected with the top pick of the second round, not the first.

When the Browns kicked off Day Two of the 2018 NFL Draft with Corbett -- a four-year starting left tackle at Nevada -- there was immediate speculation that the Browns envisioned him taking over for recently retired, 10-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas.

Corbett has indeed practiced at left tackle over the course of OTAs and minicamps, but he also has seen work at left guard and right tackle.

The toughness and smarts that it takes to play multiple positions in your first weeks in the NFL is precisely what the Browns love about Corbett and why he is a terrific fit for a young club still sorting out its best five blockers.

"I see him as a good football player," vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith said after the Browns drafted Corbett.

"He is very multifaceted. He can do a lot of things. There is no doubt that he could probably play center for you. I think one of the best things that you want to do is add good football players to your team. It is a great problem to have -- a guy who can play a bunch of different positions."

Assistant general manager Eliot Wolf added: "He played left tackle at his school, but he went down to the Senior Bowl and played right tackle, center and both guards. We just see him as a really tough guy. Corbett came in as a 230-pound walk-on and ended up starting for four years in Nevada."

Because Corbett is "only" 6-foot-4, 306 pounds and possesses below-average arm length (33 1/8 inches), NFLDraftScout.com and many others projected Corbett to slide inside, although he does have the initial quickness and balance required to remain outside in the NFL. As Wolf alluded, Corbett's stock took off at the Senior Bowl, where his competitive, almost brawling style of play eased any doubts that he could handle a position switch, if required.

In terms of a specific position, perhaps not even new Browns' offensive line coach Bob Wylie knows for sure where Corbett will line up for the majority of his rookie season. It is possible he begins the season on the bench, offering "swingman" duties as the primary backup to several veterans. This might be the ideal scenario for Cleveland, which already has invested big dollars to boost its offensive line.

The Browns boast two of the league's best guards in Joel Bitonio (who preceded Corbett at Nevada) and Kevin Zeitler on the right side. They also feature a quality starting center in J.C. Tretter, whom Highsmith and Wolf know well after helping draft him in Green Bay.

The club also has some intriguing options on the perimeter in two other free agent additions, Chris Hubbard and Donald Stephenson, as well as homegrown products like Shon Coleman (last year's starting right tackle) and toolsy undrafted free agent Desmond Harrison.

What Corbett lacks in terms of height and reach among Cleveland's other tackles, he makes up for with quickness and consistency -- two traits absolutely required given the pass rushers in the AFC North and the Browns' mobile (and undersized) quarterbacks.

Other thoughts on the Browns' 2018 draft class:

While Mayfield was drafted to be the savior, offensive coordinator Todd Haley pumped the brakes a bit last week when explaining that the reigning Heisman Trophy winner "has a long way to go" before challenging veteran Tyrod Taylor as the Browns starter.

Browns fans are right to be impatient given that the club has won just once since Hue Jackson took over head coaching duties two years ago, but the club is confident Mayfield will live up to his draft position and prove to be the long-term answer.

While I personally have reservations about any undersized quarterback consistently excelling in the AFC North -- the only division in the NFL where every divisional game is played outside -- Mayfield is a gamer whose moxie and accuracy have mitigated average size and velocity to this point.

Like Corbett, Mayfield turned a lot of critics into believers at the Senior Bowl and his unique traits -- a quick release, instincts and ball placement chief among them -- make him a clean schematic fit in Haley's scheme. For whatever it is worth, Mayfield's game appears less conducive to the more traditional deep-drop, vertical attack Jackson has preached throughout much of his career, signaling perhaps which direction general manager John Dorsey might be leaning should there be a change in head coach.

Any doubt as to who holds the most power in Cleveland was answered with the No. 4 pick, as the decision to draft former Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward over North Carolina State edge rusher Bradley Chubb was Dorsey's call and caught some in the organization (and throughout the league) by surprise.

While pairing Chubb with Myles Garrett was certainly appealing, it is not difficult to understand Dorsey's choice given the presence of superstar wideouts Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh) and A.J. Green (Cincinnati) in the division. Like his former Ohio State teammate, Marshon Lattimore, Ward is a legitimate shutdown corner, blanketing opponents due to his elite feet and loose hips. One could make the case that cornerback -- not quarterback -- was the Browns biggest weakness entering the draft.

With quality veterans ahead of them on the depth chart, it may take a while for former SEC stars Nick Chubb (Georgia) and Antonio Callaway (Florida) to make waves in Cleveland, but I love the selections of both.

From his powerful frame and bullish running style, Chubb is a virtual duplicate of free agent addition Carlos Hyde, providing the Browns with an intimidating 1-2 punch of downhill runners that should help the team build and maintain leads.

Callaway's tape is more impressive than any other receiver in this class. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder's elusiveness and breakaway speed (and unfortunately, checkered past) remind me a lot of Tyreek Hill, whom Dorsey selected and watched become of the NFL's most feared big-play specialists in Kansas City.

Cleveland's 2018 draft class:

1st Round, No. 1 overall: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

1st Round, No. 4 overall: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

2nd Round, No. 33 overall: Austin Corbett, OL, Nevada

2nd Round, No. 35 overall: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

3rd Round, No. 67 overall: Chad Thomas, DE, Miami

4th Round, No. 105 overall: Antonio Callaway, WR/RS, Florida

5th Round, No. 150 overall: Genard Avery, ILB, Memphis

6th Round, No. 175 overall: Damion Ratley, WR, Texas A&M

6th Round, No. 188 overall: Simeon Thomas, DB, Louisiana-Lafayette

Key Undrafted Free Agents Signed:

Desmond Harrison, OT, West Texas A&M

Marcell Frazier, DE, Missouri

Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia

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Rob Rang
Rob Rang

Editor

Browns fans, you might be interested in this quick interview (4-5 minutes) I did with Corbett during the Senior Bowl. I was impressed by his mental checklist prior to each play, as well as his confidence to handle whichever position the coaches there asked him to line up.



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