Two preseason games have come and gone for the Cleveland Browns. In past years, the team would be gearing up for their first roster cutdown following the third preseason game, which would have taken NFL rosters down to 75 players.
This year, there is only one roster cutdown, and it’s straight from 90 to 53 players. Nonetheless, some things have changed since my pre-training camp edition of my roster projection, so now it’s time for my second 53-man roster projection. This edition is based on the weeks of training camp reports and performances from the two preseason games. My final roster projection will immediately follow the team’s fourth preseason game.
|Pos||Final Roster||Players Cut|
Injured Reserve: RB Darius Jackson, WR James Wright, OL Matt McCants, OL Chris Barker, MLB Tank Carder
The list above contains 53 players that I kept, and 34 players that I cut. The list does not include CB Howard Wilson, who should start 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. The team also has two open roster spots, as of this post.
General Roster Projection Notes
- Since the first addition of my list, I removed the following seven players from my 53-man roster projection:
1. RB George Atkinson
2. WR Mario Alford
3. DE Desmond Bryant
4. MLB Tank Carder
5. S Kai Nacua
6. CB Channing Stribling
7. K Cody Parkey
- Since the first addition of my list, I added the following seven players from my 53-man roster projection:
1. RB Matthew Dayes
2. DL Trevon Coley
3. MLB Dominique Alexander
4. OLB James Burgess
5. S Ibraheim Campbell
6. CB Darius Hillary
7. K Zane Gonzalez
I will explain each of the roster decisions in the positional bullet points below.
- Quarterback: Plenty has changed with respect to the order of the depth chart since our first roster projection. For now, I’m still leaving all three quarterbacks on the roster, with Kevin Hogan being the only odd man out. Assuming DeShone Kizer still starts in Week 1, then I think the team will find little value in keeping Brock Osweiler as a backup here, and would rather trade him for a conditional draft pick. But I’ll defer my final call on that to after the fourth preseason game.
- Running Back: The team added Brandon Wilds since my first edition, but he went straight to the cut side. One of the changes here was known pretty much on the first day of training camp when the team cut George Atkinson and started heavily involving Matthew Dayes. Dayes is a lock to make the roster now.
- Wide Receiver: Head coach Hue Jackson said the No. 3 through No. 6 receiving spots are still up-for-grabs after Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt. There is a reason for that, and it’s because nobody has nor will stand out enough to warrant there being six wide receivers on the team. Actually, the reason I had six initially was due to me believing Mario Alford would be a kick returner, but I’ve moved on from that after seeing what Jabrill Peppers can do. Rannell Hall has shown good hands and has also been getting work as a backup return man. I’m still leaving Jordan Payton off the roster for now.
- Tight End: We have no idea what the tight end rotation will be on gameday, but we do know that the three tight ends on the roster will remain David Njoku, Seth DeValve, and Randall Telfer.
- Offensive Line: I was this close to putting Cameron Erving on the cut side. I had actually moved his name to the cut side before putting him back on the roster, and the reason for that is because Matt McCants just went on injured reserve. McCants was nothing to write home about, but this team will need two backup tackles. Rod Johnson will be one of them by default, and I think Erving gets the edge over Zach Sterup. After final roster cuts are due, though, I think the club will search other teams’ moves for a backup tackle in lieu of Erving.
- Defensive Line: In my training camp previews, my roster odds for Desmond Bryant were at 90%. Trevon Coley was at 25%. Now, we know that Bryant is gone and Coley is a lock to make the roster and possibly even start. It’s too early for me to know what Brandon Thompson can offer. Caleb Brantley’s roster spot could be up-in-the-air, as he’s not been able to see action due to injury this preseason.
- Linebacker: Gone to injured reserve, and I’ve decided to add three linebackers: Kenneth Olugbode, Dominique Alexander, and James Burgess. Olugbode takes more of the backup middle linebacker role, while Alexander takes Carder’s spot as a special teams leader. Alexander and Burgess are far from a certainty, though, and give me some flexibility to switch them out in my final roster projection if necessary.
- Cornerback: This one is all about reps: Channing Stribling hasn’t seen much action this preseason, while Darius Hillary has been treated like the fifth cornerback. I was waiting to see if Stribling or Najee Murray would shine, but the sample size on their playing time has just been too small for me to put them on the 53-man roster.
- Safety: The same story applies to Kai Nacua — although he’s had some more reps, with all the injuries at the position, he hasn’t ascended the depth chart like Justin Currie did before his release the other day. Ibraheim Campbell’s stock was way up at the beginning of training camp, so it was a simple decision to flip Campbell and Nacua. Leaving Calvin Pryor on may come as a surprise, but I’m wondering if he’ll stick around just as a deep insurance policy at safety while also being a special teamer.
- Special Teams: I left wiggle room for the kicker position, and since my first projection, Zane Gonzalez has gained a tad more momentum than Cody Parkey has. If the competition if even, Gonzalez wins the job.
- The single asterisks on the cut side represent my projected practice squad, which includes WR Jordan Payton, WR Jordan Leslie, TE Taylor McNamara, OL Anthony Fabiano, OL Zach Sterup, DL Tyrone Holmes, S Kai Nacua, DB Trey Caldwell, CB Najee Murray, and CB Channing Stribling.
Feel free to share your roster projections here, or some changes you would make to mine.