The 2020 NFL season is fast approaching and teams are heading into the first stage of free agency. For the Cleveland Browns, there are serious questions at the right guard position.
When the Browns went into the 2019 season, former GM John Dorsey signed Eric Kush to compete for the role left open when right guard Kevin Zeitler was traded to the Giants.
Kush then won the starting job during training camp and maintained the position for the first eight weeks—until his production fell to a point the Browns could no longer allow it. While Kush started strong with an “average” grade from Pro Football Focus, by week three against the Los Angeles Rams, his grade took a massive descent to “poor,” which is the lowest rank for a player. From weeks four through eight, Dorsey allowed Kush time to recover; however, he wasn’t able to get the job done.
Both Austin Corbett and Eric Kush were unable to provide stability in a once very stable position, so the Browns GM turned to second-year guard Wyatt Teller. Dorsey acquired Teller and a 2021 seventh-round pick from the Buffalo Bills with a trade sending a 2020 fifth and sixth-round pick on August 29, just one week before the season opened.
Teller was previously a fifth-round selection in the 2018 NFL draft by Bills and played a total of 476 snaps, mostly at the left guard.
Teller had no preseason snaps with the team at right guard and spent the vast majority of his time at left guard the prior season. This new task would be a challenge in only his second season in the NFL.
I wanted to go back and review each week that Teller played for the Browns in 2019 to get a better idea of how he may project into the 2020 season. The Browns new head coach Kevin Stefanski will run a zone-blocking scheme. I provided a link below to help explain the system.
Before I started to look at the film over the last season, I first wanted to start at the beginning of Teller’s NFL career, including his pre-draft profile and combine performance. For that part, I found an article from landryfootball.com that explains how player measurements translate into the NFL.
I will start with his body measurements that have been shown to be the minimum required for success in the NFL.
Teller checked off (or came close to) each required benchmark to fit the profile of an NFL starting guard. Next, I researched to find out how well Teller may perform in the new blocking system when I found this article from www.gobblercountry.com.
By all accounts, Teller has checked out well to be a fit for the new system the Browns will implement this year. I also found another interesting tidbit during my research from John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer, who noted that on April 14, 2018, the Washington Redskins held a pre-draft private workout for Teller. At that time, Browns new offensive line coach Bill Callahan was the assistant head coach/offensive line coach for the Redskins.
“The Redskins hosted two Virginia Tech players Thursday: defensive lineman Tim Settle and offensive lineman Wyatt Teller. Settle has drawn their interest for a while and could be a second- or third-round choice — in Washington or somewhere. But he fits what the Redskins want: an interior lineman who can help vs. both the run and the pass. If they bypass a lineman in the first round, Settle would be a target in the following rounds. Teller, who started at guard, is projected to go somewhere between the third and fifth rounds. His 2016 performance was better than last season, but the former is why he could go higher than anticipated. He’s been on the Redskins’ radar for some time as well.”
Teller started his season with the Browns playing only a handful of snaps week six and eight to ease into the new position while getting familiar with the team. His real first start was week nine against the Denver Broncos.
Week 9 Notes: Broncos vs. Browns
While Teller earned a 68.3 pass-blocking grade, his overall (43.4) was revised down due to his run-blocking grade of 32.4. Below are some specific notes on his performance.
- Slow out of his pass-blocking sets.
- Great vision but tends to lock onto the wrong player.
- Did an excellent job of controlling Mike Purcell one on one.
- Sometimes beat on the first step but can recover.
- Good with hand fighting.
- Overall an average first start with little drop off in the 4th QR.
With his first game in the books, I could not find any red flags.
Week 10 Notes: Browns vs. Bills
For his second start, Teller once again earned a better pass-blocking grade (72.7) than run-blocking grade (50.2), giving him an overall of 57.3. Specific notes on his performance in this game are below:
- Good with double team blocks.
- Good vision but can get focused on the wrong guy.
- Won against Star Lotulelei.
- Starting to see drop off in the 3rd QR.
- Was still a little winded in the 4th and needs to work on controlling his downfield blocks.
- You could see the timing from release-blocking to throw was off.
- Ed Oliver was not able to bull rush him.
- Tremaine Edmunds was no match at all for Teller.
- Still needed to keep blocks longer timing was off.
By the second start, I could see improvement, but he wasn’t in real NFL football shape and looked a little lost at times. While his overall footwork was sound, I could see at times his body was moving faster than his feet.
Week 11 Notes: Browns vs. Steelers
The week 11 match-up with the number-one ranked Steelers defense would be a real test for Teller. PFF gave Teller an overall grade of 52.0, and after watching the game, I’m afraid I have to disagree with that.
- Javon Hargrave was not moving him no matter how many ways he tried.
- On pulling blocks against Cameron Heyward, Teller was winning.
- I would like to see him get a better anchor when first hit.
- Still needs to work on hand placement for second-level blocks.
- Teller is very athletic.
- Chris Hubbard is so inadequate at blocking it hurts Teller.
- 1st & 10 Ball on the 37 with 2:26 left in the 4th
(Teller and Tretter make a great team run blocking as they work to take out Javon Hargrave with Teller also able to slow Vince Williams as well. Nick Chubb picks up 6 yards on the carry.)
I still see areas where Teller can grow, but nothing that coaching and time in the system couldn’t fix.
Week 12 Notes: Browns vs. Dolphins
For the week 12 performance, Teller earned an overall grade of 52.7 from PFF against the 32nd ranked defense, and from the very first play, Hubbard was a considerable part of the problem.
- Teller is always looking just to block someone.
- Taco Charlton doesn’t stand a chance against Teller.
- Run blocking and second-level blocking have both improved into the second quarter.
- Hand placement is also starting to improve.
- Chris Hubbard is not very good at pass-blocking.
- 3rd & 9 at the Miami 20 4:54 left in the 3rd QR
(The Dolphins run a stunt Sam Eguavoen engaging Teller first, and he’s blocked well. Jerome Baker lined up against Bitonio sheds that block in an attempt to beat Teller on his right side. Teller sees the stunt, sheds Eguavoen and picks up Baker with little trouble—perfect.)
- Teller is now playing four quarters of solid football with little to no drop off in his game. Four games into the season, he has yet to give up a sack as well.
Week 13 Notes: Steelers vs. Browns
Teller earned the second-highest grade of the season from PFF for his rematch with the Steelers at a 68.6 overall. A key metric when analyzing the performance of Teller is him showing an ability to improve against an opponent.
- 1st play of the game Teller blasts Javon Hargrave knocking him 3 yards back.
- Showing that he can help chip block while keeping his eyes up to get a second block if needed.
- Watching Mike Hilton try to bull rush Teller is laughable.
- Vince Williams was getting frustrated.
- Each game Teller is getting just a little better.
Five games into Tellers season with the Browns and I come away pleasantly surprised on how well he’s growing into the starting role.
Week 14 Notes: Browns vs. Bengals
Earning his highest grade of the season against the Bengals, Teller showed improvement with both pass and run-blocking. His pass-blocking grade of 88.2 (elite) dominated his overall grade of 76.5.
Right off, I could see the growth in Teller in such a short time. Even against Geno Atkins, Teller showed little signs of trouble blocking at all levels.
PFF Fact: With “Blocking & Allowed Pressures” Teller ranked 39th of 86 in pass-blocking while playing only 557 snaps
Week 15 Notes: Cardinals vs. Browns
Teller took a step back against the Card’s and their 30th ranked defense, earning his lowest pass-blocking grade for the season with a 39.4.
- All white uniforms are horrible.
- Teller dominated Zach Kerr early in the game.
- Cassius Marsh, attacking from the stand-up position, was able to bull rush right past Teller.
- Kendall Lamm was in at right tackle, and I could see an immediate upgrade.
- For reasons unknown, Caraun Reid was able to overpower Teller.
- Hubbard is back in, and wow it’s equal to driving off a cliff.
- Zach Kerr could blow right by Teller.
3rd quarter and Teller looks to have regressed to his first game with the Browns
- I get a feeling of frustration from Teller at this point.
- Miles Brown entered the game for the Cards and was no match for Teller.
- Teller needs to anchor himself for the initial hit better.
- The game is a mess from everyone, and I can no longer watch.
Week 16 Notes: Browns vs. Ravens
After seeing a massive drop in his pass-blocking grade the week, prior Teller would have his hands full facing the 13th ranked Ravens defense. Showing his dedication to improving each week and a key metric in the evaluation process, Teller earned his highest pass-blocking grade of the season with an 89.7 (elite).
- The Ravens attacked Teller quickly with both Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce, and he held them both off like a pro.
- He’s keeping an excellent base on his back pedaled with pass-blocking.
- Hand placement on the defender is vastly improving.
- I can see he’s starting to mirror Joel Bitonio.
- Teller controlled the movement of Brandon Williams.
- L.J. Fort was the first linebacker I’ve watched give Teller a real challenge.
- Teller is bulldozing Chris Wormley in the second quarter.
- Kenny Young was able to win the outside on an essential 2nd & 24.
- He never stops fighting to get better.
- 3rd & goal at the 2 and Teller missed a critical block on Brandon Williams.
I could see a lot of improvement from week 15 to week 16 from Teller.
PFF Fact: With “Blocking & Allowed Pressures” Teller ranked 70th out of 86 with run-blocking while playing only 557 snaps
PFF Fact: With “Pass Blocking Efficiency,” Teller’s rank was tied with
Larry Warford, Connor Williams, and Kenny Wiggins at 46th of 86 with multiple players grading with a tie.
“The PFF “Pass Blocking Efficiency” rating measures pressure allowed on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks allowed.”
Over the last four days, I reviewed well over 400 snaps taken by Wyatt Teller to help form a better idea if the Browns truly would need to seek an upgrade at the right tackle position, and this is my conclusion.
Is Teller a finished product?
No, not by a long shot; however, what he does have is a solid foundation and the ability not only to learn week to week but also during a game. Teller has shown the desire to continue to work hard and be coachable. I also believe it’s vital to look at the entire picture of the 2019 season. Teller did not have the preseason training camp with the Browns to grow with the team. He wasn’t named the starter until week 9 when the program wasn’t going in the right direction.
What areas could he improve on?
If Teller can better anchor himself on the initial contact, he’ll see the overall blocking job become more natural.
- Sometimes his body can work at a faster rate than his footwork, and he’ll become top-heavy. Continue to spend time honing the fundamentals, and he’ll overcome that small drawback.
- Hand placement on second-level blocks will give him more control to finish the play.
In my opinion, I could not find any red flags that would lead me to believe the Browns need to make a significant investment for another right guard heading into the 2020 season. New head coach Kevin Stefanski put his trust in offensive line coach Bill Callahan to improve the group, and I believe they should trust him with Teller as well. The Browns have other pressing issues that could use the capital more than the right guard position.