July 31, 2014

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Browns believe Cal tackle Mitchell Schwartz has right (tackle) stuff

BEREA — California tackle Mitchell Schwartz admittedly doesn’t know much about Cleveland, but he is well aware what his role will be with the Browns.

“Joe Thomas is probably the best left tackle in the game, so I understand I’ll be at right tackle,” the 6-foot-53⁄8, 318-pounder said. “Honestly, I’m pretty comfortable with both sides (of the line) because I’ve played there in my career.

“It’s just a different side of your body and a different leg is back, but in terms of the techniques and the style of your play, it’s basically all the same.”

Cleveland selected Schwartz in the second round of the NFL Draft — with the 37th overall selection — on Friday, joining previous picks Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden.

Adding the All-Pac 12 Conference honoree gives the Browns two former Golden Bears on their starting offensive line.

Pro Bowl center Alex Mack was a junior at California when Schwartz arrived as a redshirt freshman in 2007. Ironically, they will now resume their teacher-student relationship five years later on the North Coast.

“I’ve stayed in contact with him throughout the process and talked to him a little bit,” said Schwartz, who started 35 games at left tackle and 16 at right tackle for the Golden Bears.

“It’s definitely good to have a former teammate there. It’s always good when you know someone going into a new situation.”

It’s also good that the Browns added a right tackle on the second night of the three-day draft, seeing as it was one of their most glaring needs — behind running back, which they addressed by snaring Alabama star Richardson on Thursday.

The position was a major problem for Cleveland throughout 2011 with Tony Pashos fighting through the pain of a major ankle injury from start to finish.

Fellow veteran Artis Hicks, prospect Oniel Cousins and journeyman John Greco also were in the patchwork mix.

Only Cousins and Greco remain on the Browns’ roster, paving the way for Schwartz to make an immediate impact opposite five-time Pro Bowl choice Thomas.

“We feel Mitch is going to be a really good player for us,” Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert said. “He’s a big kid, he’s athletic, he’s played right tackle, he was at left tackle, he played well at the Senior Bowl. We just think he’s a good player.”

Schwartz, who earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies, was named California’s most valuable offensive lineman in each of the last three seasons. The 22-year-old did not allow a sack last fall, helping the Golden Bears average 28.3 points and 401.5 yards of total offense.

Perhaps as impressive, Schwartz earned Academic All-Pac 12 honors and the Cort Majors Captains Award for his leadership.

“It’s definitely an exciting time coming to an up-and-coming team, a team with a lot of talent that is going to be competing for the next few years and all the years to come,” said Schwartz, whose older brother Geoff is a fifth-year tackle with the Minnesota Vikings.

“Cleveland is just doing their best to get better with everything they can do, and the draft is obviously part of that process. You can tell they’ve gotten more talent and gotten better as the years have progressed.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.

Browns today

• Remaining draft choices (7): Round 4, 100th overall; Round 4, 120th overall (from Broncos); Round 5, 160th overall (from Broncos); Round 6, 204th overall (compensatory from NFL); Round 6, 205th overall (compensatory from NFL); Round 7, 245th overall (compensatory from NFL); Round 7, 247th overall (compensatory from NFL).

• Draft choices traded during NFL Draft weekend (5): Round 1, 4th overall (to Vikings); Round 3, 67th overall (to Broncos); Round 4, 118th overall (to Vikings); Round 5, 139th overall (to Vikings); Round 7, 211th overall (to Vikings).