While I realize it is way too early to be speculating about any sort of depth chart, especially since the draft just ended, here’s an early look at the Browns Depth chart right now. Candidly, I am going to do one on the first of every month for the next couple months and see how the roster changes until the beginning of the season from signings, injuries, free agents, trades and such.
Record Prediction: 7-9
3. Thad Lewis
Thought: Browns keep 3 QBs because of the constant carousel that is the Cleveland QB since 1999. Hopefully Weeden is pushed by Campbell to put that carousel to rest for the next 6 years. Thad may have been a guy from the previous regime but he proves himself capable of being 3rd string.
4. Dion Lewis
1. Owen Marecic
Thought: Struggled with the idea of the Browns having 4 RBs and also the idea of Owen Marecic being around. But Hardesty has another year to try to prove himself a capable backup, and signing Obi and trading for Lewis show they could be leaving 4 on the roster for depth. Could see Lewis moving ahead of Obi with a strong summer. Short of someone coming out of nowhere, it looks like Marecic has another year on the team, its time for him to show something.
1. Josh Gordon
2. Greg Little
3. Davone Bess
4. David Nelson
Thought: Gordon has had a full offseason to better himself and develop as the team’s top pass catcher. He and Little working out together should be encouraging with hopes that new WRs in Bess and Nelson can come in with a veteran presence to compete for the 3 and 4 slots. Benjamin and Norwood round out the 6 on the active roster, both having opportunities to compete as KR/PR as well. I don’t believe Cooper has played enough games to not qualify for the Practice Squad and could be called up for depth if there’s an injury
2. Kellen Davis
Thought: While you could probably call me the Resident Smelley fan, I don’t see him making the roster; he’s more of a practice squad guy and could potentially see time if Marecic flops at FB or someone gets hurt. Cameron will get his shot and Davis and Barnidge will see the field in blocking roles and special teams time. I hope Kellen Davis surprises us with his receiving skills, but feel Cameron is probably our best shot to have any chance of a TE capable of playing like others have in Turner’s offense, mainly Antonio Gates.
LT- Joe Thomas
LG- Jason Pinkston, Ryan Miller
C- Alex Mack
Thought: Joe is the shit, no ifs ands or buts. Pinkston comes back ready to start again and should hopefully improve after some rest. Alex Mack eats iron bars and continues to be a solid presence in the middle. John Greco proved capable of starting and filling in at RG and I see him beating out Lauvao for the starting job. And finally Mitchell Schwartz shows much improvement from a pretty stellar rookie season and challenges to become a Pro Bowl RT opposite Joe Almighty. To provide depth, Miller, Lauvao, and draft pick Garrett Gilkey are there. I like the mean streak Gilkey has and could possibly see him grown into the RG role. I know many are not a fan, but Ryan Miller has potential. If there’s one fault of mine, it would be that I’m a Ryan Miller apologist.
LDE- Ahtyba Rubin, Billy Winn
Thought: Very excited about the front guys on the D Line. While most have thought it would be a difficult transition, Rubin, Winn, and Taylor show flexibility and the signing of Desmond Bryant could prove to be the steal of free agency. Hughes and Kitchen provide depth in the middle and late draft pick Armonty Bryant could provide quality depth at the end position if he puts on a little more size.
LOLB- Paul Kruger, Quentin Groves
LILB- Craig Robertson, James Michael Johnson, Tank Carder
RILB- D’Qwell Jackson, L.J. Fort
ROLB- Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo
Thought: Candidly, I have been thinking about this one for a few days now. I went with this line-up because I think it reflects the positions the Browns could have concerns about, especially the other ILB spot opposite D’Qwell Jackson. Kruger and Jackson are locks, and I think Sheard will be the starter with Mingo being mainly a pass-rush specialist on 3rd downs to start while he learns coverage and how to run stop. The biggest doubt I have is LILB, where I see Robertson, coming off a pretty impressive season last year, has the edge. JMJ will be there as long as he’s healthy and I could see him being a starter by September. Tank Carder adds depth and another Special Teams body.
1. Joe Haden
3. Chris Owens
5. Trevin Wade
Thought: Haden will finally have a Pro Bowl year, barring another run in with prescription meds. McFadden will hopefully be the #2 corner the Browns so desperately need. He was a 4-year starter and seems to be extremely intelligent and aggressive, even for his size, which I think many blew out of proportion. Owens and Skrine could go back and forth for nickel, but I think Owens could be a low risk/high reward signing. Skrine and Wade would round out a group of only 5 corners; I’ll explain my reasoning next in the FS and SS sections.
1. TJ Ward
Thought: TJ Ward is a lock for one position, but Gipson is my surprise starter here. I’ve given up on Hagg, who had a lot of good recommendations from his Nebraska coaches but has failed to impress. Slaughter and Bademosi act as back-ups, who also provide special teams talent and Bademosi could even be a CB if necessary, making holding a sixth spot on the roster expendable for CB. All 3 of Gipson, Slaughter and Bademosi offer excellent athletes with good upside that could lead to the Browns finding a starter.
LS- Christian Yount
Thought: The signing of Shayne Graham leads me to believe he is the guy to replace Phil as a stop-gap solution. Banner and Lombardi have both said it’s a process, which means kicker could be something they look to fill next year after a year with a veteran that is solid, just not what we’ve come to expect since 1999. Spencer Lanning is a familiar, comfortable choice at Punter and could prove to be a reasonable choice, considering the punting of the last couple seasons. And finally, no complaints about Yount, has filled in wonderfully since coming in as a replacement.
SPECIAL TEAMS- 3
What’s everyone think? Anything crazy stick out to you? Are you disappointed about anyone I left off? Should the Browns bring back Syndric Steptoe to challenge at WR?