Cleveland Browns 53-Man Roster Projection, Final Version: Who Survives the Cuts?

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Which players did we think will make the final 53-man roster for the Cleveland Browns?

The Cleveland Browns will have to inform the NFL of their 53-man roster by Saturday at 6 PM EST. The roster is currently at 75 players, meaning 21 players will either be waived, released, placed on injured reserve, or traded.

Before the cuts come, it is time for my final roster projection of the season. To compare, you can look at my first roster projection at start of training camp and my second roster projection from two weeks ago. Two players from my list two weeks ago -- WR Jordan Norwood and CB Trevin Wade -- have already been waived. Opps. Two other players -- RB Montario Hardesty and RB Dion Lewis -- were placed on injured reserve. So there are at least four more roster spots that have opened up for me. Explanations for some of my roster projection decisions are outlined below the table.

Pos Final Roster Players Cut
QB Brandon Weeden
Jason Campbell
Brian Hoyer
RB Trent Richardson
Brandon Jackson
Jamaine Cook
Miguel Maysonet
FB Chris Ogbonnaya Owen Marecic
Brock Bolen

WR Greg Little
Davone Bess
Travis Benjamin
David Nelson
Tori Gurley
Josh Cooper*
Naaman Roosevelt
Mike Edwards
Jordan Norwood
Cordell Roberson*
Dominique Croom
TE Jordan Cameron
Gary Barnidge
Kellen Davis
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
Jarrod Shaw*
Caylin Hauptmann
Martin Wallace
Braxston Cave
Aaron Adams
Ryan Miller
Dominic Alford

DL Desmond Bryant
Phil Taylor
Ahtyba Rubin
Billy Winn
John Hughes
Ishmaa'ily Kitchen
Armonty Bryant
Brian Sanford
Hall Davis*
Nicolas Jean-Baptiste
Dave Kruger

LB Jabaal Sheard
Craig Robertson
D'Qwell Jackson
Paul Kruger
Barkevious Mingo
Quentin Groves
L.J. Fort
Justin Cole
Tank Carder
James-Michael Johnson
Justin Staples*
Paul Hazel
Eric Martin
Tommy Smith
Kendrick Adams
Adrian Moten
S T.J. Ward
Tashaun Gipson
Johnson Bademosi
Josh Aubrey
Jamoris Slaughter*
Kent Richardson
Kenronte Walker
CB Joe Haden
Buster Skrine
Chris Owens
Leon McFadden
Akeem Auguste
Abdul Kanneh*
Trevin Wade
Vernon Kearney
ST Shayne Graham
Spencer Lanning
Christian Yount
Brandon Bogotay*
Colton Schmidt
T.J. Conley

Already on IR: RB Dion Lewis, RB Montario Hardesty, OT Chris Faulk
Suspension List: WR Josh Gordon

The list above contains 53 players that I kept, and 21 players that I cut. Players who were already cut prior to the fourth preseason game are crossed out. Gordon will not count toward the roster while he is suspended for the first two games of the regular season.

General Roster Projection Notes

  • Compared to my last edition, I added six new players. That is a pretty drastic change from one edition to another, but was necessary due to the four moves already made (Lewis, Hardesty, Norwood, and Wade).

  • The six new additions to the 53-man roster projection include:
    1. RB Jamaine Cook
    2. WR Tori Gurley
    3. TE Brad Smelley
    4. DE Armonty Bryant
    5. LB Tank Carder
    6. CB Akeem Auguste

  • The six players who were removed from the final roster include:
    1. RB Dion Lewis
    2. RB Montario Hardesty
    3. WR Jordan Norwood
    4. OL Jarrod Shaw
    5. CB Trevin Wade
    6. S Jamoris Slaughter

  • QB: Believe it or not, this is the only position that has been "set in stone" for all of camp. We're keeping three quarterbacks, plain and simple.

  • RB: Based on the final two preseason games, the Browns don't really care for what RB Migusel Maysonet has to offer. I don't think they are particularly high on RB Jamaine Cook either, but it's a numbers game: if you waive them both, you're left with just RB Trent Richardson and RB Brandon Jackson on the roster, and that's not going to happen (note: see a few bullet points down re: Chris Ogbonnaya).

    With that said, I am also predicting that Cook will be waived the day after cuts are made and replaced with someone who was cut by another team (fingers crossed for the Ravens' Bobby Rainey or the Bears' Michael Ford!).

  • WR: This is the one I thought hard about and decided to go out on a limb with. The obvious move is to put WR Joshua Cooper on the roster. Here's the thing, though: what role would he really play while WR Josh Gordon is absent? None. WR Davone Bess is out slot guy, period.

    We also saw how rusty WR David Nelson looked against the Bears. That may put his roster spot into question, but I think the Browns will give him the benefit of the doubt and let him get more back up to speed in terms of comfortability playing again. I also don't think WR Travis Benjamin will start in favor of WR Josh Gordon. Who does that leave? Tori Gurley, the well-traveled-but-still-young receiver who offers nice size and, based on what has gone down in camp, the ability to have some breakout performances. They have also used Gurley heavily on special teams this preseason as a coverage guy, and he's often been in the area of making a tackle.

  • TE: I think part of the reason the Browns waived FB Owen Marecic in the first batch of cuts was the fact that they like the versatility of TE Brad Smelley. It's hard to get a pulse on Smelley's "safeness" on the roster -- he hasn't really stood out this year or anything, but despite that, he's been used a lot in the motioning tight end role. If the Browns need RB Chris Ogbonnaya to actually play...running back, they could resort to using Smelley as the fullback too.

  • OL: I went back on my thought process of having eight healthy offensive linemen on gameday and decided to cut OL Jarrod Shaw. Despite Shaw's versatility, we could use the roster depth elsewhere and should be able to get by with two backups. After all, how often do you suffer multiple offensive line injuries in a game? If we can get by for two weeks, hopefully Jason Pinkston and/or Shawn Lauvao our back.

  • DE: This was a tough position. I love our depth...but I love it so much, that there are eight guys I want to keep. Brian Sanford has been here a long time, but this has by far been his coming out year. I don't really want to see someone like Billy Winn, John Hughes, or Ishmaa'ily Kitchen traded, because that depth is top-notch. However, if the Browns get offered a very good trade for one of those guys, they may take it and opt to keep Sanford instead. I decided to keep a seventh defensive linemen, and that guy is DE Armonty Bryant. I'll get more into that decision later.

  • ILB: The Browns needed a backup inside linebacker besides L.J. Fort. It was between Tank Carder and James-Michael Johnson, and I went with Carder because he seemed to play a bit more in camp and is listed higher on the Browns' depth chart. In reality, it's a coin flip. Either that, or we'll waive both guys eventually and claim someone off waivers.

  • OLB: We've used Justin Cole so much this preseason and he has delivered in every game. I also envision him being one of our new special teams aces. With Barkevious Mingo's Week 1 status in question, I think Cole is pretty safe. Newcomers Paul Hazel and Eric Martin didn't have enough time to show anything, other than maybe warranting a practice squad spot.

  • S: This ended up being a rookie-for-rookie swap, as I cut S Jamoris Slaughter and replaced him with DE Armonty Bryant. What did it come down to? I wanted to keep both, but not on the final roster. Bryant on the main roster and Slaughter on the practice squad seems like a safer route than Slaughter on the main roster and Bryant on the practice squad; based on Bryant's pass-rushing motor the past couple of weeks, I think he has a better chance of being plucked by another team. Slaughter, on the other hand, has been too injured to show anything. There's no way another team is going to put him on their 53-man roster to start the season.

  • CB: I was surprised by the release of CB Trevin Wade. After seeing how poorly CB Leon McFadden has fared the past two weeks, the decision is even more surprising. Perhaps they will bring Wade back after he is healed from his shoulder injury, though. In the mean time, it seemed obvious to replace his spot with CB Akeem Auguste, an undrafted free agent who has played a lot this camp with the second- and third-teamers.

  • ST: There's a chance the Browns could pull a surprise and waiver K Shayne Graham, but I'm not counting on it. I don't think P Colton Schmidt showed anything impressive enough against the Bears to warrant a roster spot over P Spencer Lanning. In fact, I thought Lanning boosted his stock in the game.

  • Practice Squad: My projected practice squad includes WR Joshua Cooper, WR Cordell Roberson, OL Jarrod Shaw, DL Hall Davis, LB Justin Staples, S Jamoris Slaughter, CB Abdul Kanneh, and K Brandon Bogotay.

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

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