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Browns positional analysis: Offensive linemen

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Posted Feb. 25, 2011 @ 11:04 a.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

This is the fifth in a series of position-by-position looks at the Browns' personnel entering the 2011 season. Here is our analysis of Cleveland's OL situation: 

Overview: The Browns might be in better shape at this position than any other. Their lone Pro Bowl representatives were offensive linemen: OLT Joe Thomas, an established star; and C Alex Mack, a player on the rise. Also, OLG Eric Steinbach is well-regarded. 

While the Browns are in very good shape on the left side of the line, there could be some competition on the right side of the line. Tony Pashos is the most likely replacement for the departed John St. Clair at right tackle, but he could be challenged for the job. Also, Floyd Womack could be pushed at right guard. 

Here's a breakdown of each of the offensive linemen on the roster, in alphabetical order:

OT Branndon Braxton: Braxton, who played for the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives the past two seasons, could compete for a reserve role. 

OG Shawn Lauvao: A third-round pick from Arizona State in the 2010 draft, Lauvao appeared in 10 games as a rookie, making one start at right guard. He could contend for more playing time at the ORG spot in 2011.

C Alex Mack: Mack started all 16 games at center and earned his first Pro Bowl berth as an injury replacement. He has become one of the AFC's top players at his position. 

OL Pat Murray: Signed by the Browns in January, Murray figures to compete for a reserve role at guard. 

ORT Tony Pashos: Pashos, who turns 31 in August, made three starts at right tackle last season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. He's the current favorite to start at right tackle in 2011. 

OLG Eric Steinbach: Steinbach has made 62 starts in four seasons with Cleveland, including all 16 games in 2010. Steinbach, who turns 31 in April, moves very well but is a little light for the position at 295 pounds. He's an effective starter. 

OLT Joe Thomas: A starter in the 2011 Pro Bowl, Thomas is one of the NFL's top left tackles, excellent in pass protection and a strong run blocker, too. Exceptionally dependable, Thomas has never missed an NFL start. There's a strong case to be made that he's the Browns' best player. 

OL Phil Trautwein: Signed in January, Trautwein could contend for a reserve OT role. 

OG-OT Floyd Womack: Womack made 12 starts at right guard and three starts at right tackle in 2010. His versatilty is an asset. 

OG Billy Yates: Yates, who's slated to be a free agent, made three starts at right guard before suffering a season-ending arm injury in November. If he re-signs, he could contend for a reserve role. He played ahead of Lauvao last season, with Lauvao getting his start only after Yates had suffered his season-ending injury. 

Bottom line: The Browns are set at left tackle and center, and Steinbach is a solid left guard. If the Browns were to add to the offensive line in free agency or the draft, right guard and right tackle would appear the primary positions of need. 

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