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The Browns need to find their left tackle tonight in the NFL Draft

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 4/23/2020 By Dan Labbe,
a screen shot of Andrew Berry in a red shirt: New Cleveland Browns General Manager Andrew Berry speaks to the media at a press conference in Berea. © Joshua Gunter, New Cleveland Browns General Manager Andrew Berry speaks to the media at a press conference in Berea.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Maybe this is oversimplifying things, but let’s take a step back and really look at the Browns’ offseason so far.

The Browns needed a tight end so they paid big money to Austin Hooper.

They needed to remake their safety room, so they handed one-year deals to Karl Joseph on a prove-it deal and Andrew Sendejo.

They needed depth on the defensive line, so enter Andrew Billings and Adrian Clayborn.

They needed a backup quarterback, so here comes Case Keenum.

Kevin Johnson is here to compete for a job at nickel and JoJo Natson has a chance to infuse something into the return game. B.J. Goodson offers quality depth at linebacker.

They needed two tackles so they signed Jack Conklin.

This is a long way of saying the Browns filled a whole bunch of needs in free agency -- some longterm and some short -- with one glaring exception.

The Browns hold the No. 10 overall pick in a draft flush with tackle talent. In the constant battle between need vs. best player available -- and analytics is going to favor best player over reaching for need -- there appears to be a clean marriage between the two.

Sometimes you just have to fix the glaring problem, especially when it has been the glaring problem for a while. The Browns haven’t had a high-caliber left tackle since Joe Thomas went down against the Titans in 2017.

It’s unfair to expect any drafted tackle to be Thomas. Regardless of who the Browns draft, he’s not going to walk onto the field Week 1 next year and not leave for 10,000-plus snaps. There will be hiccups and a learning curve.

But you have the opportunity to get it fixed and do it the right way. The Browns have big money invested at three other spots on the line with Conklin, center JC Tretter and left guard Joel Bitonio, so getting some level of cost-control at a high-cost position is a smart move.

Certainly things can change -- the thing we all love about the draft is its unpredictability -- but as of right now, if it were up to me, it’s time to fix the tackle position now and in the future. Get the guy to protect your quarterback’s blindside.

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