BEREA, Ohio—You cannot have enough offensive linemen.
At least that is the philosophy of Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine.
After using the 35th overall pick in the draft in 2014 to draft offensive lineman Joel Bitonio, the Browns used the 19th pick in 2015 to draft Cameron Erving, a versatile All-American left tackle/center from Florida State.
Erving spent the last couple of seasons protecting No. 1 overall draft pick, Jameis Winston’s blind-side at left tackle. Erving was a first-team All-American in 2013 and 2014.
“I take tremendous pride in being an offensive lineman,” Erving said. “To join Joe Thomas, Alex Mack and those guys, it will be a tremendous experience to play and learn from those guys.”
Ray Farmer summed up his philosophy in building a team.
“At the end of the day, it starts up front,” Farmer said. “As a rule of thumb, teams find ways to win games and have a competitive advantage running the ball.”
Mike Pettine agreed.
“I’m a firm believer you build through the line,” Pettine said. “I know they’re not sexy picks, we call them big sexy picks.”
“He can play multiple positions, but he’ll likely start on the right side.”
Farmer likes the versatility of Erving.
“Like Mike said, we took a guy who can play all along the offensive line,” he said. “We feel we can dictate the pace.”
Erving played left tackle in 2013 after playing defensive tackle at Florida State and played left tackle the first nine games of the 2014 season before moving to center for the final five games.
“He was at left tackle and went to center and looked like an All Pro, having never played the position,” Farmer said. “He can play a variety of positions.”
Erving credited his coaches with his transition.
“To be honest moving from left tackle to center was coaching,” he said. “There’s not a position I love better. I just want to play and I will play 100 percent wherever I play.”
Farmer said the first thing he noticed about Erving was his outstanding footwork for a big man.
“The first thing I look at is his feet,” he said. “His ability to move his feet and he had some of the best feet in the draft of all of them. The combination of his foot quickness and strength added up to what we wanted.”
The drafting of Erving also gives the Browns some insurance should Mack choose to opt out of his contract after the 2015 season. When he signed the transition tag offer from the Jaguars, which the Browns matched last year, it had a clause that Mack could void the contract and he could not be franchised.