Feb 23, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; California Bears offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz speaks at a press conference during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
What an exciting weekend! Cal had the most players in the Pac-12 drafted this year. There were 6 players in total. Even though Cal did not have a first round pick for the first time in several years, we certainly made up for it! Mitchell Schwartz was actually the first Bear off the board.
The Cleveland Browns (home to former Bears Scott Fujita and Alex Mack) drafted Schwartz in the second round. Congratulations to Mitch! On top of achieving his dream of playing for a NFL team, Mitchell Schwartz (along with his brother) actually helps bring some diversity to the NFL:
Trivia question: What family soon will represent 20 percent of the Jews in the National Football League?
Answer: The one with Geoff and Mitchell Schwartz. Older son Geoff has played two seasons with the Carolina Panthers and now is under contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Younger brother Mitchell, who will almost surely be drafted this week, will join him.
Making any professional league is a long shot, so to have two in the same family borders on the incredible.
"Obviously, it’s a pretty cool thing," Mitchell said. "We graduated from pretty good colleges. It’s a really cool thing. I’m looking forward to it."
Mazel Tov to the Schwartz family for having two sons in the NFL. I'm sure Mitch can learn a lot from his older brother Geoff about NFL life. And since Geoff went to Oregon, while Mitch went to Cal, Mitch can teach Geoff about what an academic school was all about! Just kidding, Schwartz family. Somewhat, not really.
Either way, we're all extraordinarily excited for Mitchell Schwartz. He was a great player for Cal and we hope he can continue to play at that elite level with the Browns. Having Alex Mack there to teach him the ropes is an amazing opportunity!
To learn more about Mitchell Schwartz, Alex Mack, and the Browns, we talked with Chris Pokorny at SBN's Browns site Dawgs By Nature. They have all the information we need to know about the Browns offensive line situation. Thanks Chris and DbN for the info. Their answers to our questions after the jump. Go Bears and Go Browns!
1. What is the depth chart ahead of Schwartz with the Browns?
The first offensive tackle that got drafted by the Browns would have to be thrilled for this reason: they would immediately come in and start. Last year, the Browns had a revolving door at right tackle between starter Tony
Pashos and backups Oniel Cousins and Artis Hicks. Pashos was released this offseason after having foot surgery. Hicks signed with another team.
Cousins was the only one retained, but he played terrible last season. Prior to the draft, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur stated that the team would draft a starting right tackle. Schwartz will take on that role with nobody ahead of him on the depth chart.
2. What position do you see Schwartz playing with the Browns?
As mentioned above, he will be the starting right tackle. The Browns have a Pro Bowl left tackle in Joe Thomas, and he has never missed a game at the NFL level. The Browns were pretty set at four of the five offensive line positions, so Schwartz fills the only void.
3. What style blocking do the Browns use - zone? man? What sort of play calling / offense do the Browns run and how does the blocking style support that?
I, admittedly, am not proficient in what style of blocking the Browns use. My current belief is that they run a zone blocking scheme, but I could be wrong on that. Cleveland implemented a West Coast Offense last season, but
the team could hardly put any points on the board. That is a major reason for the team's offensive overhaul early on in the draft (Richardson, Weeden, Schwartz). Hopefully this year we'll be able to see more of the offense the Browns try to run, because last year's anemic effort is honestly difficult to put to words.
4. What has been a bigger concern for the Browns - protecting McCoy or creating running lanes? Do you think Schwartz can solve either of those issues?
I don't know if I'd say there was a bigger concern heading into the draft, between protecting the quarterback or creating running lanes. Our right tackles were beat off the snap many times last year by pass rushers, which
forced McCoy to take some hits or have to get rid of the football too early. The run blocking was stable, but not exceptional. It sounds like Schwartz has a nasty streak to him, which I assume helps in the running game.
Considering the team drafted an all-around back in Trent Richardson, the consistency that Schwartz brings should definitely help him out in the running game. As long as Schwartz is competent at protecting the passer, that will solve a lot of headaches too.
5. There appears to be a lot of flux with some of the skill positions at the Browns (QB, RB). How important will a staunch line be going forward for the young Browns?
The youth that this offensive line has puts the Browns in great shape moving forward. Left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack are basically Pro Bowl players. Both of our guards were later round picks, but matured pretty well last year in what was basically their first full season as starters. This year, Schwartz completes the unit at right tackle. I am a firm believer that chemistry is key for the offensive backfield, and to have Richardson, Weeden, and these five offensive linemen grow together is something to look forward too.
6. Since we are talking with you, anyway, can you update Cal fans on how Alex Mack is doing for the Browns? Give us all the dirt!
Although it's impossible to reach "Joe Thomas" territory, fans also love what Alex Mack has done for the Browns. The guy earned even more respect last year when he had an appendectomy during the NFL season and still ended up playing in the very next game. We wouldn't trade him for any other center at this point.