Why Browning Went First

If forced to pick one offensive lineman from the Ohio State roster, few fans would likely select Bryant Browning after he struggled in his first season as a starter. Find out, then, why he was the first offensive lineman taken in the spring game draft and how that affected the rest of the draft for both squads.

As the senior leader of the Ohio State offensive line, it stands to reason that Jim Cordle knows his linemates as well as anyone. It raised a few eyes, however, when the senior selected Bryant Browning as the first offensive lineman in the draft for the spring game.

Not surprisingly, there was some strategy involved. Cordle can line up at center, guard or tackle, and he was already assigned to the Scarlet team. With the players picking rosters for the spring game, Cordle coveted one thing above all else on the offensive line: versatility.

Last season, Browning started all 13 games at right tackle after primarily working as a reserve at right guard the season before. By landing Browning, the Scarlet squad knew he could fill one of several roles.

The pick was surprising because Browning did not have a standout 2008 season, his first as a starter. Partially as a result, the coaches have been looking at moving him back inside to right guard and having Cordle learn the right tackle position.

"I feel I have a lot to improve on," Browning said at the beginning of spring practice. "I'm a tough critic on myself. I see a lot of things the other top tackles do in college football and the NFL that I need to improve on if I want to be great."

Although he is coaching for the Gray squad, offensive line coach Jim Bollman approved of seeing Browning go first in the draft.

"I think it's a feather in his cap that people see his value in this game of being able to play a couple different positions," Bollman said. "I'm sure that had a lot to do with him being able to play right guard and/or right tackle and/or the left side. He could probably even go in and play center if he had to. He's a good guy for them to pick, no question."

Although the Scarlet team does not have the responsibility of protecting starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, it figures to have plenty of options when blocking for Joe Bauserman – particularly at the tackle positions.

After Browning was taken by the Scarlet team, the Gray squad countered by taking Justin Boren. A powerful run blocker, Boren figures to be the starting left guard this fall and has looked impressive during spring drills. That pick allowed Cordle's squad to pick Andy Miller, who has been splitting the first-team reps with Mike Adams at left tackle.

Sticking with its desire to be solid inside, the Gray team took center/guard Mike Brewster to offset Cordle at center despite already having senior center Andrew Moses on the roster – a move that surprised Cordle.

That left the Scarlet team free to take Mike Adams, another tackle, giving it the four players who have worked with the first-team offense at tackle this year: Adams, Browning, Cordle and Miller.

"They'll realize it was partly strategy, which is why I'm surprised they took Brewster over Adams because they went for a center when they already had a center in Moses," Cordle said. "They could've gotten a tackle. Now they have young guys playing tackle."

To counter at tackle, the Gray team has junior Josh Kerr, who has 41 minutes of career playing time, and true freshman Jack Mewhort, who just enrolled for winter courses. In all, three of the five projected starters for this fall will line up for the Scarlet team in the spring game.

"We've got a real good O-line," Cordle said of the Scarlet squad. "Part of the game plan going in was I figured I'm on the team, so if we can draft some tackles we can open that position up and get it going then they're going to be lacking tackles.

"They might have Terrelle Pryor, but right now they've got Jack Mewhort, a brand-new freshman and we have Thaddeus Gibson. Not a good matchup."

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