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

A few days before the official start of training camp, we look at which players could comprise the Browns’ 53-man roster.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-Minicamp Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns will hold their first full-squad session of training camp on Thursday, July 27th, 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.

I will have two more roster projections as training camp progresses: one will be after the second preseason game, and the final one will immediately follow the final preseason game.

Pos Final Roster Players Cut
Cody Kessler
Brock Osweiler
DeShone Kizer
Kevin Hogan
Isaiah Crowell
Duke Johnson
George Atkinson
Matthew Dayes*
Terrence Magee
Danny Vitale
Kenny Britt
Corey Coleman
Ricardo Louis
Rishard Higgins
Rannell Hall
Mario Alford
Jordan Payton*
James Wright
Josh Boyce
Jordan Leslie
Richard Mullaney
David Njoku
Seth DeValve
Randall Telfer
Taylor McNamara*
J.P. Holtz
Joe Thomas
Joel Bitonio
J.C. Tretter
Kevin Zeitler
Shon Coleman
Cameron Erving
John Greco
Spencer Drango
Rod Johnson
Anthony Fabiano*
Austin Reiter
Gabe Ikard
Matt McCants
Marcus Martin
Zach Sterup*
Chris Barker
Myles Garrett
Danny Shelton
Emmanuel Ogbah
Desmond Bryant
Carl Nassib
Larry Ogunjobi
Caleb Brantley
Jamie Meder
Nate Orchard
Cam Johnson
Xavier Cooper
Tyrone Holmes*
Jamal Marcus
Karter Schult
Trevon Coley
Tank Carder
Joe Schobert
Kenneth Olugbode
Dominique Alexander*
James Burgess
Jamie Collins
Christian Kirksey
Deon King
Ladell Fleming
B.J. Bello
Jabrill Peppers
Ed Reynolds
Calvin Pryor
Derrick Kindred
Kai Nacua
Ibraheim Campbell
Trey Caldwell*
Justin Currie
Joe Haden
Jamar Taylor
Jason McCourty
Briean Boddy-Calhoun
Channing Stribling
Marcus Burley
J.D. Harmon
Alvin Hill
Darius Hillary
Najee Murray*
Cody Parkey
Britton Colquitt
Charley Hughlett
Zane Gonzalez*

The list above contains 53 players that I kept, and 36 players that I cut. That comes out to 89 players, because I have CB Howard Wilson starting the year on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. WR Josh Gordon is not listed because he is on the suspension list, and therefore does not count toward the 90-man roster.

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. This year, I came to 52 players, so I was able to bump one player over from my “cuts” list.

General Roster Projection Notes

  • This final projection does not factor in trades, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the team tries to move Brock Osweiler during camp for a conditional draft pick. That would put Cody Kessler in the driver’s seat to start, but Kevin Hogan’s throwing motion needs a lot of work to be sustainable in the NFL. The team could add another quarterback to the mix, for emergency purposes, if they move on Osweiler.
  • The Browns only used two running backs all of last season until the finale, and I expect that to be the case for 2017 as well. They’ll still carry a third back for emergency purposes, and that spot is fluid. I have it between George Atkinson and Matthew Dayes, with Atkinson getting the nod for now. Dayes being a late 7th round pick doesn’t carry much weight in a roster decision. The wrinkle on my overall thinking at running back could change if the team converts Duke Johnson to largely being a slot receiver.
  • The wide receiver position was really tough. Only two receivers’ spots are completely locked up, and that includes Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman. The hype around Ricardo Louis, and him being a 4th round pick last year, makes his spot pretty secure. Whether the team keeps 5 or 6 receivers, Rishard Higgins, Rannell Hall, and Mario Alford have a lot to prove, although Alford is more so on there for his return ability. I’ll be looking for who Al Saunders loves from the cut side early in camp.
  • The third tight end spot should come down to Randall Telfer vs. Taylor McNamara. I’m intrigued by the thought of McNamara overtaking Telfer, but Telfer gets the early benefit of the doubt since last year was basically his rookie season and there is room for growth.
  • At offensive line, I feel pretty good about 8 of my 9 selections. The only one up-in-the-air is John Greco, and its a timing thing rather than a quality thing. Will he be ready for the start of the regular season? If not, he could go on the PUP list, opening a roster spot for someone else like Anthony Fabiano or Austin Reiter.
  • The Rams’ roster was filled with defensive linemen last year, and I’m carrying that over to Cleveland for Gregg Williams with ten defensive linemen. Several of those defensive linemen have some experience as outside linebackers too, like Emmanuel Ogbah, Cam Johnson, and Nate Orchard, which is a reason there are only two outside linebackers. It might seem unconventional to then have three middle linebackers in a defense that will seldom even use one of them, but Joe Schobert is a recent investment and I have Kenneth Olugbode beating out Dominique Alexander on special teams. Aside: Cam Johnson was the one guy originally on my cut list.
  • I’m keeping five cornerbacks and five safeties. Kai Nacua over Ibraheim Campbell is a result of Nacua’s promising ball skills and his free safety depth vs. the fact that Campbell is a strong safety with more depth in front of him this year (Jabrill Peppers, Calvin Pryor, and Derrick Kindred). At cornerback, I have Channing Stribling making it, but I like either he or Najee Murray to make the roster.
  • Lastly, on special teams, I give the pre-camp edge to Cody Parkey. We’ll be able to tell during camp which kicker is doing better, though, so it could very easily flip to Zane Gonzalez before long.
  • The single asterisks on the cut side represent my projected practice squad, which includes RB Matthew Dayes, WR Jordan Payton, TE Taylor McNamara, OL Anthony Fabiano, OL Zach Sterup, DL Tyrone Holmes, MLB Dominique Alexander, DB Trey Caldwell, CB Najee Murray, and K Zane Gonzalez.

Feel free to share your roster projections here, or some changes you would make to mine. Note: Ezweav also posted his 53-man roster projection last week.