The Browns signed second-round draft choice (35th overall) Joel Bitonio from Nevada on Sunday. The team announced the move on their twitter account and sent out a press release.
Bitonio (6-4, 302) is expected to compete for a starting position at guard when training camp begins. Bitonio suffered a high-ankle sprain during the OTAs and Mike Pettine said he would be sidelined likely until training camp. However, Pettine indicated that he expected Bitonio will be ready to go when camp begins.
Prior to the injury, Bitonio was lining up at left and right guard with the first team offense. While he was injured, Bitonio was replaced by second-year guard Garrett Gilkey in the rotation.
Pettine said after the Browns drafted Bitonio that they really liked his versatility.
"The great thing about Joel is that he has position versatility," Pettine said. "He’s a guy we think can play all five spots. We’ll get him here and see what the best spot is for him. It’s likely at guard, but when you talk about ‘Play Like a Brown’ and what we’re looking for in an offensive lineman, he truly embodies that. We wanted to upgrade our toughness, our nastiness and that’s one of the things that jumps off the tape when he plays."
On draft day, Bitonio talked about his physical style of play.
"I like to play hard," he said. "Football is played to the whistle and you have to play as hard as you can every snap. If you can play that hard every play, then there’s a good chance that if you’re equally talented and use your technique well, you’ll be able to beat the guy you’re going against. I want to play as hard as I possibly can. I know the AFC North is a tough, hard-nosed division, and I hope I can a little bit of that to the team."
Bitonio started his final 38 games at Nevada, with 26 starts at right tackle before opening all 12 contests at left tackle as a senior. He was credited with allowing just two sacks on 821 pass attempts.
With the signing of Bitonio, the only unsigned player drafted in 2014 is cornerback Justin Gilbert, who was the eighth overall draft choice.