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

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns will hold their first full-squad session of training camp on Thursday, July 30th, 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
Josh McCown
Johnny Manziel
Connor Shaw*
Thaddeus Lewis
Isaiah Crowell
Terrence West
Duke Johnson
Glenn Winston*
Shaun Draughn
Luke Lundy
Malcolm Johnson
Dwayne Bowe
Andrew Hawkins
Taylor Gabriel
Brian Hartline
Travis Benjamin
Vince Mayle
Terrelle Pryor
Marlon Moore
Rodney Smith
Kevin Cone
Josh Lenz
Shane Wynn*
Darius Jennings*
Rob Housler
Gary Barnidge
Jim Dray
E.J. Bibbs*
Kevin Haplea
Joe Thomas
Joel Bitonio
Alex Mack
John Greco
Cameron Erving
Mitchell Schwartz
Michael Bowie
Ryan Seymour*
Vinston Painter*
Karim Barton
Eric Olsen
Andrew McDonald
Darrian Miller
Joe Madsen
Erle Ladson
Desmond Bryant
Phil Taylor
Danny Shelton
John Hughes
Randy Starks
Xavier Cooper
Billy Winn
Ishmaa'ily Kitchen
Jamie Meder
Jacobbi McDaniel
Christian Tupou
Dylan Wynn
Karlos Dansby
Craig Robertson
Chris Kirksey
Tank Carder
Hayes Pullard*
Darius Eubanks
Paul Kruger
Barkevious Mingo
Nate Orchard
Scott Solomon
Armonty Bryant
Mike Reilly*
Donte Whitner
Tashaun Gipson
Jordan Poyer
Ibraheim Campbell
Johnson Bademosi
Micah Pellerin
Brandon Stephens
Joe Haden
Tramon Williams
K'Waun Williams
Justin Gilbert
Pierre Desir
Charles Gaines
Robert Nelson*
Kendall James
De'Ante Saunders
Andy Lee
Travis Coons
Charley Hughlett
Carey Spear

The list above contains 53 players that I kept, and 32 players that I cut. That comes out to 87 players, because TE Randall Telfer and CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu are projected to start the year on injury lists, and the team also has one roster spot open.

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 and 2013, I had to cut one additional player. In 2014 and now again this year, my initial draft came in at two players over the limit.

General Roster Projection Notes

  • In trying to get down to 53 players, I needed to cut two additional players who I originally wanted to keep. I want to keep a surplus of wide receivers, defensive linemen, and players in the secondary, so I looked at where I could trim from other positions. Ultimately, I chose TE E.J. Bibbs and OL Ryan Seymour as the players to move over to the "cut" side.

  • I chose to only keep two quarterbacks. The Browns went this direction almost all of last season, so why not do it again? I think the coaching staff would rather keep an extra defensive lineman than a third-string quarterback on gameday, when they could just be on the practice squad instead.

  • At the fullback position, I think Malcolm Johnson will win the job, with Bibbs being a close second. That's why I had Bibbs being a fourth tight end originally. When I needed an extra roster spot, I asked, "who is unlikely to really be active on gameday?" and Bibbs' name jumped out. He can go on the practice squad instead.

  • At wide receiver, I'm keeping six players yet cutting Terrelle Pryor and Marlon Moore. As I've stated before, the Pryor story is fun to follow, but I don't think he'll have enough of the "little things" down pat in time for September, and the Browns don't have as much flexibility on the roster this year to keep a project. Moore is a tough cut for his gunner abilities on special teams, but the drafting of CB Charles Gaines and S Ibraheim Campbell made the move a necessity. Travis Benjamin is the receiver who is most at risk of losing his job.

  • I am keeping the minimum number of offensive linemen (7) and a surplus of defensive linemen (8 or 9, depending on how you label OLB Armonty Bryant). With the offensive linemen, Cleveland can keep two guys on their practice squad and then have two quality backups on the 53-man roster. The odds of three linemen suffering injuries on gameday are very slim. Because of the Browns' injuries and talent on the defensive line, I kept a surplus of players. I'm not sure how many will be active on gameday, but I don't see them letting that depth walk, even if a guy like Ishmaa'ily Kitchen is now a third-string nose tackle.

  • There isn't a lot of competition at backup inside linebacker or backup outside linebacker. I am giving Tank Carder the edge over Hayes Pullard to make the 53-man roster.

  • 11 defensive backs is the minimum the Browns will carry, but I could see it going up to 12. It just becomes tough to squeeze the numbers out of another position, though. If Moore can't make the roster as a gunner, then S Johnson Bademosi has to make it. At the very least, one or the other have to make the 53-man roster.

  • The kicker position is a crapshoot. I picked Travis Coons because he nearly won an NFL competition last year, but ultimately, I think somebody not currently on the roster will be the team's opening day kicker.

  • As of this post, the Browns only have 89 players on their roster instead of 90 players.

  • The single asterisks on the cut side represent my projected practice squad, which includes QB Connor Shaw, RB Glenn Winston, WR Darius Jennings, WR Shane Wynn, TE E.J. Bibbs, OL Vinston Painter, OL Ryan Seymour, ILB Hayes Pullard, OLB Mike Reilly, and CB Robert Nelson.

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