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

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns will hold their first full-squad session of training camp on Friday, July 29th, 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
(3)
Robert Griffin III
Josh McCown
Cody Kessler
Austin Davis
RB
(3)
Duke Johnson
Isaiah Crowell
Terrell Watson
Raheem Mostert*
Glenn Winston
FB
(1)
Patrick Skov Malcolm Johnson
WR
(7)
Corey Coleman
Andrew Hawkins
Terrelle Pryor
Rashard Higgins
Jordan Payton
Ricardo Louis
Marlon Moore
Taylor Gabriel
Darius Jennings*
Rannell Hall
Dennis Parks
TE
(3)
Gary Barnidge
Seth DeValve
Randall Telfer
E.J. Bibbs*
Connor Hamlett
J.P. Holtz
OL
(8)
Joe Thomas
Joel Bitonio
Cameron Erving
John Greco
Alvin Bailey
Shon Coleman
Spencer Drango
Austin Pasztor
Michael Bowie
Dan France*
Garth Gerhart
Kaleb Johnson
Erle Ladson
Mike Matthews*
Conor Boffeli
DL
(6)
Danny Shelton
John Hughes
Carl Nassib
Jamie Meder
Xavier Cooper
Nile Lawrence-Stample
Nick Hayden
Kyle Rose*
Dylan Wynn
ILB
(4)
Demario Davis
Christian Kirksey
Scooby Wright
Tank Carder
Justin Tuggle
Dominique Alexander*
OLB
(5)
Paul Kruger
Emmanuel Ogbah
Nate Orchard
Barkevious Mingo
Joe Schobert
Jackson Jeffcoat
Cam Johnson
S
(4)
Jordan Poyer
Ibraheim Campbell
Derrick Kindred
Rahim Moore
Don Jones
Sean Baker*
Tim Scott
CB
(6)
Joe Haden
Tramon Williams
K'Waun Williams
Justin Gilbert
Charles Gaines
Trey Caldwell
Pierre Desir*
Jamar Taylor
Tracy Howard*
Eric Patterson
Mikell Everette
ST
(3)
Andy Lee
Travis Coons
Charley Hughlett
Patrick Murray

The list above contains 53 players that I kept, and 34 players that I cut. That comes out to 87 players, because OLB Armonty Bryant and WR Josh Gordon will start the year on injury lists, and DE Desmond Bryant will likely be placed on injured reserve.

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. This year, for the first time since doing this, I came up with exactly 53 players in my first draft. That was actually a bit of a letdown, as I like discussing decisions I had to make after going either above or below the limit.

General Roster Projection Notes

  • I was big on keeping just two quarterbacks last year in order to create another roster spot, but this year, three seems like a necessity. Unless the Browns can move Josh McCown via a trade, there's no reason to cut him in favor of Austin Davis. McCown is probably the best quarterback on the roster, but Robert Griffin III will be given the opportunity to start since his long-term potential and his ceiling in general as a quarterback is higher.

  • At running back, Raheem Mostert was in play for his kickoff return abilities, but I think the team will try to get Justin Gilbert into that role since I also have him making the team as a cornerback. Perhaps my most "out-of-the-box" prediction is Patrick Skov making the roster. That has nothing to do with my being high on Skov, and has everything to do with me being low on Malcolm Johnson. I'd rather that E.J. Bibbs make the roster, but don't know how well his blocking has improved, and that's what Cleveland would be seeking out of the fullback position.

  • At wide receiver, Josh Gordon will begin the year on the suspension list. All of my wide receiver projections in camp will probably feature seven wide receivers making the roster, but somebody will have to go once Week 5 rolls around. It will probably be one of the rookies. They can't all play this season, so if at all possible, I'm sure the team would like to use the injury designation on somebody (i.e. Ricardo Louis) if they come down with a rather minor injury in camp. I think Marlon Moore still makes the roster as a special teamer, and I'm rolling with the Terrelle Pryor hype.
  • The next few positions are pretty standard picks. At tight end, unless Seth DeValve's injury lasts awhile, I think he and Gary Barnidge are your receiving tight ends and then Randall Telfer finally gets to prove his worth as a blocking tight end. I have eight offensive linemen making the team -- the 5 starts, the 2 rookies, and Austin Pasztor, who is a veteran who can play guard or tackle.

  • On the defensive line, Desmond Bryant's injury upped the job security for a player like Xavier Cooper and should also provide one of the youngsters a chance at making the 53-man roster. In this roster projection, I went with Nile Lawrence-Stample for his run-stopping ability.

  • The outside linebacker and inside linebacker picks are all very safe projections -- no surprises to speak of. This was assisted by the suspension of Armonty Bryant -- if he were to make the club, then I think you consider whether you have room for a Barkevious Mingo or Tank Carder still.

  • The safety position may be devoid of proven talent, but it's also a position where the four safeties on the roster seem like virtual locks. I don't know of any NFL team that doesn't carry four safeties, and the three players after Jordan Poyer, Ibraheim Campbell, Rahim Moore, and Derrick Kindred don't have good odds of unseating them because they'll start off with the third-team defense.

  • Lastly, at cornerback, the decision I had to make on the back end of the depth chart came regarding Justin Gilbert vs. Charles Gaines vs. Pierre Desir vs. Trey Caldwell. I think the investment in Caldwell being fresh helps his stock, and I'm hoping that Gilbert can be turned around by the new coaching staff. That left things down to Gaines vs. Desir. From a depth chart perspective, K'Waun Williams and Caldwell would both be nickelbacks, and Gaines would be too, creating an unnecessary surplus at that position. But I also don't have a lot of faith in Desir after what I saw last year, so I still went with Gaines...for now.

  • At kicker, I stuck with Travis Coons for his accuracy. He does have the leg for 50 yard kicks, but multiple factors conveyed otherwise last year. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he improved his game this offseason and that Chris Tabor will get the blocking up front patched up.

  • The single asterisks on the cut side represent my projected practice squad, which includes RB Raheem Mostert, WR Darius Jennings, TE E.J. Bibbs, OL Dan France, DL Kyle Rose, C Mike Matthews, ILB Dominique Alexander, S Sean Baker, CB Pierre Desir, and CB Tracy Howard.

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