10 Takes on Training Camp’s Top Shocker: Left Tackle

Like his number, Desmond Harrison's debut can go either way or both, but the Browns love his effort, confidence, and natural tools.

UDFA rookie Desmond Harrison named starting left tackle

  1. The Browns have been graced with a series of sustained success at left tackle. Just six men — Lou Groza, Dick Schafrath, Doug Dieken, Paul Farren, Tony Jones, and Joe Thomas — were the primary starters for 58 of the team’s first 68 seasons of play until Thomas’ triceps tendon tore against the Titans last autumn.
  2. GM John Dorsey willingly chances it on certain red-flag players he finds at a discount. This puts an onus on the coaching staff, the organization writ large, and most of all the player himself to develop that talent and avoid outside traps.
  3. Harrison won’t have to sweat his academic eligibility the Browns, but he does enter the league in Stage One of the substance abuse program, subject to random testing.
  4. At the outset of training camp, OL coach Bob Wylie called moving Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio to left tackle “Option Z.” Two days later, Hue went zag and chose just that. But neither Harrison nor Greg Robinson had been available yet. Austin Corbett looked even less like a pro left tackle than Bitonio, so the experiment at least got the rookie some first-string game action and Bitonio some credit for flexibility.
  5. Bitonio played the good soldier, but it sure seems like he prefers to be the elite left guard he’s made and paid to be, rather than pressed to adjust to using different skills as the crucial blind-side tackle.
  6. Less than a month ago, when Harrison cleared his physical after a toe problem, a DBN writer opined that he “appears to be a perfect candidate for a position on the practice squad.” Instead, he beat out a former second-overall pick (Robinson) and the top pick of this year’s second round (Corbett).
  7. Spencer Drango, who started the rest of 2017 in Thomas’ place, didn’t even earn his stripes this summer. Neither did Shon Coleman, last year’s right tackle and the first man up after Thomas retired in March. The two started a combined 35 games over the past two years.
  8. Still, it’s shocking in a strangely hopeful way that both Drango and Coleman have been swept out, and the oft-heard ambition to “get the best five linemen on the field” has put a journeyman rookie without a single starting season of major college football on his resume at the most important spot on the line.
  9. Help me out. Who’s the last undrafted left tackle to start Game One of his rookie year? And how did that go?
  10. Not sure I’d endorse Hue’s overall handling of the left tackle situation, with the media at least. But whatever you think of this move, it’s more palatable with a mobile, pocket-savvy quarterback than, say, a big-armed bomber. And the Browns go two deep on the former.