The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player (rookies don’t count) for the 2013 NFL season on each NFL team. For the Cleveland Browns, that player is guard John Greco.
Guards don’t get a lot of glory in the NFL, especially when they play for losing teams, but every chance Greco has gotten, he’s shown himself to be a very good guard. A 3rd round pick of the Rams in 2008, Greco graded out positively on ProFootballFocus on 174, 279, and 153 snaps from 2008-2010 as a valuable reserve of the Rams. The Browns acquired him for a late round pick after the 2010 season, but he didn’t really play much in 2011, playing 52 offensive snaps and primarily being a special teamer. However, in 2012, when injuries struck left guard Jason Pinkston, Greco got his first chance to be a full-time starter, starting the final 10 games of the season.
Greco made the most of his opportunity, grading out as ProFootballFocus’ 19th rated guard, with no one playing fewer snaps than him and grading out higher. He did his best work as a run blocker, grading out as ProFootballFocus’ 7th best run blocking guard, but also held his own as a pass protector, allowing just 3 sacks, 7 hits, and 7 hurries on an overall very underrated Cleveland offensive line. He was a big part of the reason why the Browns averaged 4.19 yards per carry behind left guard, as opposed to 3.86 yards per carry elsewhere.
Heading into his age 28 season in 2013, Greco is expected to be week 1 starter for the first time in his career. He’ll head over to right guard to play his natural position and replace long term turnstile Shawn Lauvao with Jason Pinkston returning at left guard to compete with Lauvao. If he plays like he has every time he’s gotten a chance in the past, he’ll finish the season as one of the league’s better guards, possibly in the top-10 or top-15.