Cleveland Browns 53-Man Roster Projection (Pre-Training Camp Edition)

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The Cleveland Browns will hold their first full-squad session of training camp on Thursday, and that means it is time for me to unveil my first 53-man roster projection of the season. This pre-training camp edition is my current perception for how things will go, but it could change drastically over the next couple of weeks based on reports from training camp and performances in the preseason games.

Pos Final Roster Players Cut
QB Brandon Weeden
Jason Campbell
Brian Hoyer
RB Trent Richardson
Montario Hardesty
Dion Lewis
Chris Ogbonnaya
Brandon Jackson
Miguel Maysonet
FB Owen Marecic Brock Bolen
WR Greg Little
Josh Gordon**
Davone Bess
Travis Benjamin
David Nelson
Jordan Norwood
Josh Cooper
Naaman Roosevelt
Tori Gurley
Cordell Roberson*
Dominique Croom
Mike Edwards
TE Jordan Cameron
Kellen Davis
Gary Barnidge
Brad Smelley*
Dan Gronkowski
Travis Tannahill
OL Joe Thomas
John Greco
Alex Mack
Jason Pinkston
Mitchell Schwartz
Shawn Lauvao
Rashad Butler
Garrett Gilkey
Oniel Cousins
Ryan Miller
Jarrod Shaw
Chris Faulk
Braxston Cave*
Aaron Adams
Caylin Hauptmann
Martin Wallace
DL Desmond Bryant
Phil Taylor
Ahtyba Rubin
Billy Winn
John Hughes
Ishmaa'ily Kitchen
Armonty Bryant
Brian Sanford
Nicolas Jean-Baptiste*
Dave Kruger*
Hall Davis
LB Jabaal Sheard
Craig Robertson
D'Qwell Jackson
Paul Kruger
Barkevious Mingo
Quentin Groves
L.J. Fort
Tank Carder
Tommy Smith
James-Michael Johnson
Justin Cole
Adrian Moten
Kendrick Adams
Justin Staples*
S T.J. Ward
Tashaun Gipson
Johnson Bademosi
Jamoris Slaughter
Kenronte Walker
CB Joe Haden
Buster Skrine
Chris Owens
Leon McFadden
Trevin Wade
Kent Richardson
Vernon Kearney
Josh Aubrey
Akeem Auguste*
Abdul Kanneh
ST Shayne Graham
Spencer Lanning
Christian Yount
Brandon Bogotay*
T.J. Conley

The list above contains 54 players that I kept, and 36 players that I cut. I am allowed to carry one extra player in my projections this year because for the first two games of the season, wide receiver Josh Gordon will be serving his suspension. Gordon will not count toward the roster during that stretch.

Every year, I fill in each player's name on either the "roster" side or the "cut" side, without tallying whether or not I have surpassed the 53-player limit. Then, I count up the left side, and if I am over 53 players, I weigh my options and decide who the "tough" cuts are. In 2009 and 2010, I had to cut two players I initially wanted. In 2011, I undershot my projection, and was able to add six other players. In 2012, I had to cut one additional player. This year is the same as last year -- my initial draft came in at one player over the limit.

General Roster Projection Notes

  • In trying to get down to 53 players (not including Gordon), I needed to cut one additional player who I originally wanted to keep. The positions I looked at trimming included tight end, linebacker, and cornerback. Ultimately, I chose tight end and moved Brad Smelley over to the "cut" side.

  • I kept Tommy Smith because the Browns initially signed him after a tryout, and I feel like every year at least one undrafted free agent will break through and make the roster. Smith is my choice for 2013. I kept Kent Richardson because hearing about all of those interceptions he had in the AFL is just a tad too enticing at this point in time.

  • The Browns' coaching staff and front office seem to be high on Dion Lewis, so I think the fourth running back spot comes down to Chris Ogbonnaya or Brandon Jackson. Personally, I prefer Jackson, but my pre-camp perception is that Ogbonnaya is the preferred player by the staff. If Jackson is getting second-team reps early in camp, I will make a swap in my next roster projection.

  • Owen Marecic is on the roster. I am not projecting a breakout for the guy, but if we're going to keep a fullback, he'll probably be the best candidate compared to his limited competition.

  • At wide receiver, I'm hoping that David Nelson gets taken off the PUP shortly into training camp. He can be a huge asset for this offense; if he is healthy, I don't see why he'd get cut. Jordan Norwood would be the team's fifth receiver while Josh Gordon is suspended.

  • I mentioned earlier that I cut Smelley late, but the player I was actually itching to keep from the get-go was Dan Gronkowski. I'd love for him to have a great camp and unseat Kellen Davis, but I just envision Davis' job being too secure right now.

  • The backup offensive line situation is tough to say after Shawn Lauvao. I went with a veteran, Rashad Butler, since he was good quality depth for the Texans, but was simply always hurt. I don't know if there's a spot to where keeping Ryan Miller is necessary, despite where he was drafted in 2012. Butler would take Oniel Cousins' typical roster spot. Chris Faulk has the potential, but I'm guessing he starts the season on the PUP/injured reserve and misses all of camp.

  • Besides quarterback, the defensive line position looks like the most sure unit of camp. Those seven guys are going to be the seven guys who make it, right?

  • The big question mark at linebacker can be slapped on to James-Michael Johnson. I'm trying to look at all of the signs, though -- including Terry Pluto's opinion, Ray Horton's praise for Craig Robertson, and the media recognizing that JMJ wasn't in the picture much during the offseason programs. New signing Justin Cole could make the roster for his special teams work instead of Smith.

  • The top four safeties seem pretty set too, as do most of the cornerbacks. Granted, there will be significant competition at free safety and cornerback, but those players aren't really in jeopardy of losing their roster spots.

  • It wasn't hard to choose Spencer Lanning at punter, but Shayne Graham over Brandon Bogotay was a tough one. Bogotay was praised for his long distance in the offseason practices, but Graham didn't exactly struggle or anything. I'm still sticking with my hunch that the veteran gets the nod.

  • The single asterisks on the cut side represent my projected practice squad, which includes WR Cordell Roberson, TE Brad Smelley, C Braxston Cave, DT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, DL Dave Kruger, LB Justin Staples, CB Akeem Auguste, and K Brandon Bogotay.

Feel free to share your roster projections here, or some changes you would make to mine.

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