The Cleveland Browns have a lot of talent on their offensive line but is Joel Bitonio the best?
The Cleveland Browns have three Pro Bowl, All-Pro caliber guys on their offensive line. They had four, but that’s a rant for a different day. The three surviving members on the line are Joel Bitonio Wyatt Teller and Jack Conklin. All three are good, heck, they’re even great. Yet, PFF thinks Bitonio is a cut above the rest.
It’s certainly an interesting question. Now, to be clear here, these are PFF’s opinions. They grade guys simply by watching them play and assigning a value to them. Unlike a quarterback’s QBR or quarterback rating (not the same stat), there is no mathematical formula to grade these guys game by game.
It’s just, “how well did they play”. There’s math and formulas eventually, I hope, but it’s mostly the eye test, at least with the offensive linemen.
So there is a margin of error to consider.
Joel Bitonio may be the best but the margin isn’t large
If Conklin was healthy and back into the full swing of things, I’d have him at the top guy on the line. Whenever he got hurt or wasn’t in the game for whatever reason, the offensive line had issues running the ball and protecting Baker Mayfield.
He’s a glue guy, and sets the tone for the team, at least when they run the ball. Jedrick Wills doesn’t seal as well as Conklin does, so they’ll run off Conklin more than Wills. Without Conklin, the team can’t move the ball.
Yet, after his knee injury, what is Conklin still? Can he bounce back to his prior form will he have lost a step? That’s why I can’t consider Conklin.
That leaves Teller, who admittedly is a better run blocker than Bitonio, but by what margin? If you were to grade Teller as a run blocker, it’d be a pretty obvious A+, while Bitonio is an A- to A run blocker. Yet, I would give Teller a B at best as a pass blocker, while Bitonio is a solid A.
Teller’s heavier and is less quick than Bitonio, so it makes him a bit less impressive on the line.
Still a great player, but I can see why Bitonio got the call over Teller. So yes, I do agree with PFF that Bitonio is the best the Browns’ offensive line has but let’s see how the team does with Conklin back in the fold, because we may need to revisit this conversation.