CLEVELAND – If there was one key area of concern going into the 2012 NFL Draft for the Cleveland Browns, it was the offensive line.
Thanks to the shaky play on the right side of the Browns offensive line—specifically right tackle—during the 2011-12 season, Cleveland would select the 6’5, 317 pound Mitchell Schwartz with the 37th overall pick.
While many Browns fans may criticize the selection of Schwartz as a reach by passing on offensive tackle Riley Reiff for quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round, and higher-rated tackles such as Cordy Glenn and Jonathan Martin in the second round, the selection of Schwartz may be the most important pick in the entire 2012 NFL Draft for Cleveland.
Schwartz, a four-year starter at Cal, would play in all 51 possible games for the Golden Bears. Schwartz would also demonstrate his versatility by playing 35 games at left tackle and 16 games at right tackle.
According to NFL mock website, WalterFootball.com, Schwartz was rated as the sixth best offensive tackle prospect. Schwartz was projected to go to either late in the second round or the top of the top of the third round.
Schwartz, due to his strength as a run blocker and pass-blocking may have appealed to Cleveland and their new feature tailback in Trent Richardson.
The selection of Schwartz not only gives Cleveland a formidable offensive line anchored by Pro Bowlers in left tackle Joe Thomas and—fellow Cal alum—in center Alex Mack, but also gives Cleveland’s new offensive cornerstones in Weeden and Richardson some much needed protection in both the running and passing game.
Thanks to Schwartz, Weeden—or Colt McCoy—will have finally have time to go through their progressions to targets downfield in wide receivers Joshua Cribbs, Greg Little, Mohamed Massaqoui, set up a screen pass to Richardson or even run play-action to speedsters Travis Benjamin and Jordan Norwood.
Schwartz may not have been the glamour pick that many in the Dawg Pound wanted, but with him, the Browns West Coast offense may finally get a chance to live up to its big-play potential.
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