He knows it too.
“It's the only position group outside of quarterback where pretty much all the starters they play every single snap of the game, so that's a very difficult position group to maintain, restock,” Berry said this week at the NFL Combine. “It's why something, not just this offseason but really every offseason, we're going to have an eye to make sure we're building and maintaining depth at that position.”
In an odd twist, it could be said the Browns helped build Kansas City’s line depth that helped the Chiefs end a 50-year Super Bowl title drought earlier this month.
Cleveland’s trash became Kansas City’s treasure.
Four former Browns comprised the Chiefs 2018 starting offensive line and three of them are now Super Bowl champions.
“We’ve had four guys start who played for the Cleveland Browns the last couple years here,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said at the NFL Combine this week. “They’ve stepped up and done a heck of a job for us. Andy Heck is phenomenal at developing guys and growing them into what they are today.”
Therein lies the Browns’ revolving problem – and not just with the offensive line – drafting, developing and retaining talent has never been their thing these last 21 painful years of expansion football and it is a problem no regime has been able to correct.
Berry plans to do his best to be the first but, changes must be made, again to get there.
Left tackle Greg Robinson was gone before his trip to Texas. Berry can get out of right tackle Chris Hubbard’s contract and right guard Eric Kush may go too.
“We've talked a lot about being a QB-centered organization and certainly every year our priority is going to be make sure to build a strong position group that can keep Baker upright and give him the time ultimately to throw the ball,” Berry said. “This class in particular has a lot of talented players across the different positions and we're going to identify guys that fit our profile, fit our organization, that can add competition across both sides of the ball.”
Head coach Kevin Stefanski has briefed Berry on the type of tackles he needs before they came to Indianapolis this week.
“We want guys who can move, we want guys who are athletic to run wide zone,” Berry said. “That doesn't preclude us to acquiring guys that have a little bit more power and snap at the line of scrimmage and at the point of attack, but certainly movement is a priority.”
The Chiefs signed starting right tackle Mitchell Schwartz as a free agent in 2016 after former Browns VP Sashi Brown botched the negotiations. Schwartz played the largest role of the Cleveland alumni for Kansas City and he was a premier player upon his arrival.
In 2017 Cleveland traded Cameron Erving, taken 19th overall in 2015 but was essentially a bust wherever the Browns tried to put him, to Kansas City for a 2018 fifth round pick. The Chiefs turned Erving into a serviceable role player.
Center Austin Reiter was waived before the 2018 season. He quickly landed with the Chiefs and Andrew Wylie was a member of the Browns practice squad in 2017 before being picked up. Erving, Reiter and Wylie were able to step in at critical times as replacements as Reid and the Chiefs glued together their line with former Browns.
Therein lies the lesson for Berry and the Browns as they move forward: the ability to find value, build depth on the offensive line and coach well to get the most out of players is critical to success, and keeping your franchise quarterback in one piece.
“We don’t really care where you take them,” Reid said. “You just want ones that you can develop and win games with. It’s a very important position.”