UPDATE (8/29/16): The Browns' cuts down to 75 players are in. Click here for a full list of the cuts.
Three preseason games have come and gone for the Cleveland Browns. With the team needing to trim their roster from 88 to 75 players by 4:00 PM ET on Tuesday, August 30th, it is time for me to unveil my second 53-man roster projection of the season. This edition is based on the weeks of training camp reports and performances from the three preseason games.
|Pos||Final Roster||Players Cut|
|Robert Griffin III
|Malcolm Johnson||Robert Hughes
The list above contains 53 players that I kept, and 35 players that I cut. I did not include OLB Armonty Bryant and WR Josh Gordon, because will start the year on suspension lists.
General Roster Projection Notes
- Since the first addition of my list, I removed the following seven players from my 53-man roster projection:
1. FB Patrick Skov
2. WR Jordan Payton
3. ILB Scooby Wright
4. DT Nile Lawrence-Stample
5. OLB Barkevious Mingo
6. CB K'Waun Williams
7. K Travis Coons
- Since the first addition of my list, I added the following six players from my 53-man roster projection:
1. FB Malcolm Johnson
2. WR Taylor Gabriel
3. TE Connor Hamlett
4. ILB Dominique Alexander
5. OLB Cam Johnson
6. CB Jamar Taylor
7. K Patrick Murray
I will explain each of the roster decisions in the positional bullet points below.
- Quarterback: This position seems pretty settled right now, and I expect Cleveland to carry three quarterbacks this season. Robert Griffin III is the clear starter, but Josh McCown is receiving too many reps and Cody Kessler is receiving too few reps for there to be a situation where Kessler makes it over McCown. Cleveland would really have to be impressed with a Cowboys trade package to not have McCown on the roster, and even in that case, I think they'd make Austin Davis the No. 3 guy.
- Running Back: We know Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson will be big parts of the offense, but the third back is still up-in-the-air. I went with Terrell Watson because I could see him playing a role in some short-yardage situations, and he might look better if he actually got some time with the first-team offense. I like Raheem Mostert's speed, but he wouldn't have much of a gameday role besides kick returns, and that can go to someone like CB Justin Gilbert or WR Marlon Moore. I also put FB Malcolm Johnson on the roster. The fullbacks have been utilized very little during the preseason games, but Johnson has seen some work in the first two series of the game and has had a role on the special teams units. His blocking hasn't been too bad either.
- Wide Receiver: The biggest shake-up I made was cutting WR Jordan Payton. With how good WR Terrelle Pryor has come along and WR Josh Gordon inevitably coming back in Week 5, Cleveland won't be needing all four of their draft picks at the position. WR Ricardo Louis has been nursing a minor injury and could be an IR-stash, considering they'd like to develop him more. However, I think they'd rather he be able to learn from the inactive list throughout the season while he's healthy. Payton didn't have a very high stock heading into the draft, so it's tough to imagine him landing on another team's 53-man roster. That's where having the right roster-building skills will pay off, since he can be kept on the practice squad. I also inserted WR Taylor Gabriel into the mix. I think he'll be here for depth purposes for a couple of weeks, and then when Gordon is activated, he'll get the boot.
- Tight End: After three preseason games, we haven't learned a whole lot about the tight ends after TE Gary Barnidge. We do know that TE Randall Telfer has been used in a lot of two-tight-end sets with Barnidge, so his roster spot for that niche role seems pretty secure. TE Connor Hamlett has been more involved in camp than TE Seth DeValve, but I don't think Hamlett's importance is that significant to warrant a roster spot over your fourth-round pick.
- Offensive Line: There was no change here. I think the right tackle position has yet to be decided, but I think all of the contenders will still make the team, regardless. OL Alvin Bailey was the closest player to being cut in favor of OT Dan France, but that was before France's poor showing against the Buccaneers. If the team has any concern about C Cameron Erving's ankle heading into the season, they could have C Garth Gerhart up as an insurance policy so they don't have to move RG John Greco out of his spot.
- Defensive Line: I'm happy to see DE Emmanuel Ogbah and DE Carl Nassib poised to see increased roles on the defensive line, but this team is also going to really miss having DE Desmond Bryant as a good all-around player. NT Danny Shelton has not looked good, and certainly nothing like a first-round pick. Overall, the defensive line (and the defense in general) seems pretty bad, but I also see this group being pretty settled. DL Nick Hayden could sneak on the roster if the coaches don't trust their youth yet, but if you're going to be bad, I say at least let the youngsters get their work over an average-at-best veteran.
- Linebacker: There were two changes at linebacker. ILB Dominique Alexander is in, while ILB Scooby Wright is out. It's not as though Alexander has lit the world on fire, but more so that Wright can just be stashed on the practice squad and hasn't received much of a role on special teams this preseason. ILB Justin Tuggle could squeeze on to the roster if he has a strong fourth preseason game. The other change is that OLB Cam Johnson is in, while OLB Barkevious Mingo is out (by forced trade to New England). I'd seen signs that Johnson was winning favor with the coaches, and now that Mingo is gone, he more naturally slides up the depth chart.
- Safety: None of the safeties have stood out this preseason, so it looks like the team will go with the status quo of their top four guys.
- Cornerback: This is the most polarizing position on the team. CB Joe Haden is safe, and with his recent promotion(s), CB Jamar Taylor should be fine too. Everything else is fair game. Even though CB Justin Gilbert has been with the first-teamers most of camp, he could get the boot. CB Tramon Williams, a veteran, has already been phased out of his starting role. I still like what CB Charles Gaines can bring to the table, and if CB K'Waun Williams' relationship with the team can't be repaired and if Williams is indeed being phased out, why not have Gaines there? CB Trey Caldwell has missed almost all of camp, but I think the coaching staff believes in him enough to warrant a roster spot.
- Special Teams: The change we have here is a swap at kicker: Patrick Murray is in and Travis Coons is out. Murray has been the better kicker this camp, both of field goals and kickoff distance.
- The single asterisks on the cut side represent my projected practice squad, which includes RB Raheem Mostert, WR Jordan Payton, OL Dan France, C Mike Matthews, DL Chigbo Anunoby, DL Kenton Adeyemi, ILB Scooby Wright, S Pierre Desir, CB Tracy Howard, and CB Eric Patterson.
- If I had to take a wild guess at the 13 moves Cleveland will make to get down to 75 players, it would be the following:
1. RB Glenn Winston
2. RB Jahwan Edwards
3. FB Robert Hughes
4. WR Ed Eagan
5. TE J.P. Holtz
6. TE David Reeves
7. C Mike Matthews
8. OG Cory Tucker
9. DL Nile Lawrence-Stample
10. OLB Jason Neill
11. S Sean Baker
12. S Tim Scott
13. CB Mikell Everette
Feel free to share your roster projections here, or some changes you would make to mine.