Browns Hook Thomas

While few could predict exactly how the top of the first would break down, Browns fans largely wound up happy when the team finally committed an early pick to the offensive line with LT Joe Thomas joining the Orange and Brown. Here is Fred Greetham's report...


Berea—It might be ironic that Joe Thomas was fishing and his party hooked a huge brown trout as he was being interviewed via phone from a boat on Lake Michigan.

"We just hooked a big one," Thomas said mid-sentence during his interview.

That's what the Browns are hoping, as well.

Thomas , (6-6, 311 pounds) was not in New York at NFL Draft headquarters, rather choosing  to fish with his father, future father-in-law and a family friend.

"I'm so excited to be picked by the Cleveland Browns and start might my life in Cleveland and help the Browns turn things around," he said. "They showed interest in me all along the way. Since I grew up in Milwaukee, I feel Cleveland will be right at home for me. I felt my time in Cleveland was good."

The Browns are hoping to finally have solidified an offensive line that has been considered deficient since the team returned in 1999.

"I'm very convinced I can be a starter from the beginning," Thomas said. "I feel like I'm going to be prepared from day one."

It's not clear if he will be immediately slotted at left tackle and move Kevin Shaffer to a guard or right tackle spot, but Thomas is ready to step into the starting lineup somewhere on the line.

"I'm waiting to see what the coaches are going to do with me when I get there," he said. "I've been preparing this off-season to make a position switch if I have to. If they put me on the left side and they do something with Kevin Shaffer, it might be a difficult thing, but it's something that we can work through."

Jonathan Odgen was drafted fourth overall by the Ravens in 1996 and he played guard his first year before becoming a perennial Pro Bowl left tackle.

General Manager Phil Savage talked a lot of Thomas on April 11 with a meet and greet with Browns Backers at the Legends Club at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

"To draft Thomas, might not be the sexiest or most exciting pick, but he might be the best pick for the Browns," Savage said at the time.

Thomas was asked about a comparison between himself and Raiders' Robert Gallery, who selected at the top of the draft of the Raiders.

"First of all, I think Robert is in a completely different situation as he's had three different coaches in three years," Thomas said. "I do think Robert and I have completely different games. I think I'm a vastly different person and I think with my competitive attitude and work ethic, that I will be successful."

Thomas is confident he will be the player the Browns are hoping he can be and that is a franchise-type left tackle.

"If you look at the tackle position, it's been the safest pick in the top ten," he said. "You are talking about a good possibility of a top five tackle being a Pro Bowl player.

"He's going to be a guy who could potentially go to the Hall of Fame. If you are going to get a Pro Bowl tackle, you have to get him in the top five. I feel like there might have been a couple of guys in the past five or six years who haven't panned out, but I think I'm a vastly different person. My attitude and competitiveness will not let me fail."

Thomas is anxious to get started with the Browns and hopes to avoid a hold out and be in the starting lineup by opening day.

 "I'm excited to get there and start my life and career in Cleveland," he said. "It's important for me and a lot of the things we'll do in Cleveland are similar to what I've been doing in Wisconsin. It's important for me to accomplish my goal and be a starter by the opening game and help the Browns get back to the winning tradition of old."

This is the highest the Browns have drafted a tackle in the first round since Bob McKay was taken out of Texas in 1970. The last offensive lineman taken in the first round was Jeff Faine in 2003.

"It does surprise me a little bit because Cleveland is a blue-collar city who likes their offensive linemen," Thomas said. "That's the type of city that likes offensive line type of play."

It  cannot be said the Browns aren't addressing the offensive line as the Browns have signed three of the top offensive line free agents the past two seasons in LeCharles Bentley, Shaffer and Eric Steinbach, in addition to using the third pick in the draft this year to take Thomas.

Everything seemed to go as anticipated as the Raiders took JaMarcus Russell with the first pick and the Lions grabbed Calvin Johnson with the second pick.

The Browns nearly took all of their allotted 15 minutes to make their selection as they turned in their card to Roger Goodell with only a couple of minutes left.   A poll by ESPN showed it was almost a split with fans having Brady Quinn at 34 percent and Adrian Peterson and Thomas were at 33 percent.


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