BEREA—One of the Browns' draft choices flying under the radar somewhat is Mitchell Schwartz. The Browns used their draft choice at the top of the second round (37th overall) with the expectation that Mitchell will be the team's starting right tackle.
Schwartz (6-5, 320) has stepped in and has been running with the first unit throughout mini camps.
"It's been awesome out here," Schwartz said after Thursday's practice. "I'm getting better every day."
Schwartz has caught Browns' Head Coach Pat Shurmur's attention in the early going.
"I think he's very intelligent," Shurmur said. "He's very technically sound. He's a big-body guy, but he responds well, at least it looks like, to some of the speed rush that we've seen from our guys."
"He's done a good job with that and then I think he understands the concepts pretty well and it's showing up in his play."
Schwartz scored a 34 on the ACT test and his known for being a smart player.
"I pride myself on not making mental mistakes," he said. "I want to be prepared and know where I'm supposed to be."
Schwartz said the offense he played in college with Cal is similar to what the Browns are using.
"The offense is not too much different than it was at Cal," he said. "A lot of it is technique, but it has been a smooth transition."
The Browns had a glaring hole at right tackle after they chose to not re-sign Tony Pashos, who had started the last two seasons despite battling injuries.
Browns' left tackle Joe Thomas has also been impressed with Schwartz.
"He's done a good job," Thomas said. "I've been impressed with Mitchell. He's very smart. He's a technician. I'm impressed with how he picks up everything so quickly."
Thomas, the five-time Pro Bowler, was asked if Schwartz reminded him of himself.
"Technique has always been important for me," Thomas said. "(Schwartz) studies and the things that are important for him are important for me."
Schwartz said Thomas has helped him make the transition from college to the NFL.
"You're talking about the best tackle in the NFL," Schwartz said. "It's awesome to watch what he does and why. All the offensive linemen have been great."
Schwartz feels going against second-year defensive end Jabaal Sheard in practice every day will help him prepare for the regular season.
"It will be good to go against (Sheard) in practice," he said. "It will only help make the games not as bad."
Thomas is the elder statesman of the offensive line and is just 27. He is optimistic about the offensive line both now and in the future. The other starters project to be LG Jason Pinkston (second season), C Alex Mack (fourth season), RG Shawn Lauvao (third season) and Schwartz (rookie).
"I think the O-Line is going to be the strength of the offense for years to come," Thomas said. "I'm the oldest and it's just my sixth year. We have a chance to be around together for a long time."
More QB Talk:
Shurmur was asked again about naming a starter at quarterback at the conclusion of minicamp, but he said the only certainty is the starter will be named before the Browns open against the Eagles on Sept. 9
"It's important that the guys who are playing quarterback get practice," Shurmur said. "I want to see a good body of work and at some point will name a starter."
Shurmur said rookie QB Brandon Weeden is getting the majority of reps, but he wants all four quarterbacks to get their turn.
"At this point, everybody on the roster gets reps," he said. "Once we name a starter, he will get all the reps."
"When the games start and we play Philadelphia, the starter will get all the reps."
Although Shurmur doesn't want to name a starting quarterback, he was asked if it was safe to say that first round draft pick Trent Richardson was the starting running back.
"I think that's probably fair to say," Shurmur said.
OL Oniel Cousins was back at practice after missing practices for personal reasons. DL Brian Schaefering (sports hernia), FB Eddie Williams (back) and OL Stanley Daniels (undisclosed) missed practice.
QB Brandon Weeden threw an interception to DB Usama Young in the end zone on a pass intended for TE Evan Moore. He then came back with touchdown passes to WR Greg Little and WR Jordan Norwood. QB Colt McCoy threw a touchdown to rookie WR Travis Benjamin. DB Emanuel Davis intercepted QB Seneca Wallace. K Phil Dawson tried to field goals from 65 yards to end practice and had the distance, but was just wide left twice. He made all of his attempts up until then from inside 50 yards.
End of Mini Camp:
Shurmur said he was happy with the progress the Browns made from the OTAs.
"We're making steady progress," Shurmur said. "I feel good about it. It's gone quickly, but we're moving along as scheduled."
The Browns have one more session of OTA's next Tuesday through Friday and then will begin training camp at the end of July. Next Tuesday is the only session open to the media.