After covering the potential starting defensive linemen of the Browns yesterday, now it's time to take a look at the players who will be competing for the reserve roles. When you consider that someone like Shaun Rogers isn't an every down player, it remains important that there isn't too significant of a dropoff in production down the depth chart.
For a reminder of Part 1 of the defensive line, click here.
5. C.J. MOSLEY - BACKUP DEFENSIVE END
A former sixth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings, C.J. Mosley has spent the past three seasons with Mangini and the Jets. He doesn't have a lot of starting experience (7 starts in 47 appearances) but was a versatile backup who kept his mouth shut.
Here is what thejetsblog.com had to say about Mosley back in February when Mosley was still a free agent:
"I liked Mosley a lot as a ‘depth guy’ for the Jets. He had a high motor and gave the Jets solid pass rushing depth on sub packages." Link
He already received a positive endorsement from general manager George Kokinis back when Mosley was first signed by the team.
"C.J adds another piece to the defensive puzzle," said Kokinis. "He is a competitive defensive lineman that runs to the football and will fit in well with the players in that group."
Player Quality: C
Final Roster Odds: 90%
6. SHAUN SMITH - BACKUP DEFENSIVE LINEMAN
Sometimes you just get that vibe that a player isn't going to be with your team very much longer. Right now, that feeling is at the expense of defensive end/defensive tackle Shaun Smith. After a decent 2007 season, Smith made a lot of noise in 2008. Unfortunately, that noise was made off the field, like when he allegedly punched quarterback Brady Quinn in the face. Yep, that's a nice way to make the fans love you.
On top of that, according to Tony Grossi from a report in May, the new coaching staff told Smith to "Shape up and shut up." That doesn't exactly sound like a warm welcome, especially when two of Mangini's former defensive linemen have been signed (Coleman and Mosley) and there are younger players who will shape up and shut up. Once deemed a very reliable and versatile backup to Rogers at the start of last season, Smith's pompous demeanor has overshadowed the playmaking ability we thought he had.
Player Quality: D for detrimental to the team
Final Roster Odds: 60%
7. AHTYBA RUBIN - BACKUP DEFENSIVE TACKLE
If S. Smith isn't going to be the backup to Rogers, then Ahtyba Rubin has a fair shot at claiming that role. Rubin is tied with Louis Leonard for being our second-largest lineman, and he showed some promise during his limited action last season.
In our big win against the Buffalo Bills last season, he recovered a Fred Jackson fumble in the third quarter. His best statistical game came in Week 16 against the Bengals when he recorded 5 tackles in a 14-0 loss. This is the type of situation where it would've been really nice to record some of these games and look back at Rubin's plays. Maybe rufio's assessment of him during a game last year can be improved upon:
"He needs to get lower in his stance though, I can always tell its him and nor Rogers because he is so high in his stance." -rufio, during a game thread against the Texans
Player Quality: TBD
Final Roster Odds: 80%
8. LOUIS LEONARD - BACKUP DEFENSIVE TACKLE
It's difficult to speak on Leonard's specific weaknesses, but something has to be up when you receive more playing time than a rookie (Rubin) in 2008, but fail to create the same type of buzz.
Although Leonard has been in the league for two years with three different NFL teams, last year was technically his rookie season in terms of playing time. He and Rubin have similar builds, but I can't see the Browns keeping both players unless they decide to part ways with S. Smith. Down the depth chart, you get to a point where players are pretty much replaceable. We found Leonard on the free agent wire, and chances are we can find another player like him if necessary during the season.
Final Roster Odds: 40%
9. SANTONIO THOMAS - VETERAN DEFENSIVE LINEMAN
Just who is Santonio Thomas? He's been in the league longer than you'd think. He started his career as an undrafted free agent for the Patriots back in 2005. He spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons on the Patriots' practice squad before finally seeing some in-game action in 2007.
The Browns signed Thomas after Robaire Smith's season-ending injury last September. Once again, with minimal playing time to go by, it's hard to evaluate these types of players. Thomas should head into training camp as an underdog though, and should only be in the mix if the team decides to rid of S. Smith. At 27 years old, he's also 3-5 years older than Leonard and Rubin. It's hard to imagine him improving upon his game at this point, so unless he shows standout ability over either of them, his roster odds won't be very good.
Final Roster Odds: 25%
10. MELILA PURCELL - PRACTICE SQUAD DEFENSIVE END
It seems like a rare case where none of the defensive linemen above Purcell are eligible for the practice squad anymore. Melila Purcell, on the other hand, who I keep forgetting is still on the team, can still go on the practice squad. Would he like it? Probably not, as he has spent the past two seasons (minus one game) there.
Yahoo still has Purcell listed at 266 pounds, which is more of what he was like in his college days. He weighs in at 295 pounds now, but lacks the NFL experience to make a splash at the defensive end position, especially with Mangini's pair of Jets ready to see playing time there. When the Browns chose to sign Thomas last season after Smith's injury instead of promoting Purcell, it was probably a telling sign.
It's probably time for Purcell to try to catch on elsewhere. Of note, rookie linebacker David Veikune, who fans and coaches seem to be high on already, was initially Purcell's backup in college at Hawaii.
Final Roster Odds: 25%
Practice Squad Odds: 40%
11. ADAM HOPPEL - UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT DEFENSIVE LINEMAN
Our only rookie defensive lineman in camp this year, I headed over to Scott Wright's Draft Countdown to look for a scouting report on Adam Hoppel. There was none.
Hoppel grew up in Ohio, making him a semi-local player. Hoppel's family has a background in wrestling, including his father who was a three-time state high school champion, his uncle who wrestled at Bowling Green, and his cousin who was an NCAA Division III wrestling national champion at Muskingum. When it came time to make a decision, Hoppel chose football over wrestling. Now he'll get the chance to play for the team I'm sure he watched fairly often growing up.
Stats from his biography: "Saw action 35 career games and racked up 81 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks… Recorded four sacks as a senior" Hoppel appeared to play the defensive tackle position at Cincinnati, but would fit in more as a defensive end in our defense.
Final Roster Odds: <1%
Practice Squad Odds: 25%
DT Position Quality: C- (Backups Only, Minus the Loser of Coleman vs. Smith)
It's safe to say that the Browns will definitely carry six defensive linemen, with a good chance that they'll carry seven and a (very) outside chance that they'll have eight. These players should have near-guaranteed roster spots:
Locked Up: Shaun Rogers, Corey Williams, Kenyon Coleman, Robaire Smith, C.J. Mosley.
That's five, without really having a backup nose tackle. In a battle of Rubin vs. Leonard, I'd take Rubin as the sixth man. If we choose to go with a seventh player, which I believe we will, it should come down to Leonard vs. S. Smith. If the coaches feel S. Smith has responded well enough to their blatantly honest advice, he should be our final lineman. If not, that's when the odds of making the team improve for the rest of the bunch in the list.