By: Michael Welsh
The Cleveland Browns definitely are not lacking star power on either side of the ball, with players such as Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett, and Denzel Ward. A lot of fans know plenty about each of these players. On every team, there is always one or two players that rarely get talked about, but are extremely vital to the team’s success. Cleveland actually has several players like this. Wide receiver Rashard Higgins and Center J.C. Tretter come to mind. Even more under-appreciated than them is Guard Wyatt Teller, who had a monster year in 2020.
Before his time in Cleveland, Teller played for the Buffalo Bills and was a relatively unheard-of player. The Browns traded for him in August of 2019, giving up only a 5th and 6th round draft pick. At the time, Browns fans just thought it was another body for the questionable offensive line room. Teller played 476 snaps and received a 60.3 Pro Football Focus in 2018 before coming to Cleveland, so many perceived him as an average player.
In 2019 with the Browns, Teller played 559 snaps and finished with a 56.7 grade. Even though he didn’t dazzle, there were moments where he was extremely physical and displayed characteristics of being a good player. It really came down to if he could put it all together. After the disastrous 2019 season in Cleveland, many wondered how the Browns roster would look in 2020, especially the offensive line that gave up 40 sacks on quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Fast forward to 2020 and the Browns hire Kevin Stefanski as the head coach and he brings in Bill Callahan to be the offensive line coach, which is arguably the smartest thing he’s done thus far. Callahan has a reputation as the best offensive line coach in all of football. It took little time for that to show as the Browns had the best offensive line in all of football in 2020, per PFF. The shining star on the line was Wyatt Teller, who looked like a completely different player as he manhandled opposition each week. The holes he opened up for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were massive and his pass blocking was top notch as well. He finished 2020 with a 92.9 grade from PFF, a major step up from his average grades in the previous years.
As if the stats with and without him aren’t compelling, actually watching the games and seeing the difference on Sundays was incredible. The Browns had trouble running the ball as effectively on the right side and it showed in key games that Teller missed. His play recognition and footwork were fantastic, and they only got better as the season went on. A lot of this is because of Bill Callahan’s elite coaching, but some of it shows that Teller had these abilities all along, he just needed someone to help unlock them. Teller is also loved by his teammates and displays leadership on the sidelines, most notably with the “Same old Browns” mic’d up clip from the Wild Card game in Pittsburgh. Teller helped lead Cleveland to their first playoff win since 1994.
There is no doubt that Wyatt Teller is the most under-appreciated player on Cleveland’s roster. Maybe not by Browns fans, but fans of the NFL and national media rarely acknowledge him or even know who he is. Offensive linemen are rarely stars, but if fans know who Quenton Nelson is, then they need to know who Teller is. The numbers don’t lie. It is absolutely stunning that he did not get selected to the Pro Bowl or wasn’t named First or Second Team All-Pro. Those things just prove how underrated he is.
Maybe in 2021 Teller can continue his elite production and get noticed more around the league. Until then, Browns fans can sleep well at night knowing that he is a part of the offensive line, hopefully for years to come if General Manager Andrew Berry can get a contract extension done.