The Cleveland Browns will hold their first full-squad session of training camp on Thursday, July 25th, 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. Remember that there is only one cutdown date — straight from 91 to 53 players.
|Pos||Final Roster||Players Cut|
|Odell Beckham Jr.
Dedrick Young II
Donnie Lewis Jr.
The list above contains 53 players that I kept, and 37 players that I cut. That comes out to 90 players, and then RB Kareem Hunt set to go on the suspension list to begin the year.
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 50 players, so I was able to bump three players over from my “cuts” list.
General Roster Projection Notes
- Quarterback: The Browns’ depth behind Baker Mayfield isn’t very strong, but Drew Stanton figures to stick around, and Garrett Gilbert’s stock is as high as it can get after a successful AAF stint. It would be ideal if Gilbert shined in camp, allowing him to become the backup quarterback as Stanton sticks to the veteran backup role.
- Running Back: The Browns have doubled down on their commitment to Duke Johnson, and with Kareem Hunt suspended for the first eight games, there is no chance Johnson misses the roster. I see the club carrying only three running backs to start the year, as they would prefer to stash talent at other positions. Orson Charles is my default fullback, but that roster spot is extremely fluid right now for any position that needs an extra number.
- Wide Receiver: We know who the first four receivers are, but what about the fifth? (Or in my case, sixth). I have Derrick Willies staying on, and then the biggest “surprise” of camp is Ishmael Hyman. I have to ride with the momentum of him getting first-team reps during minicamp, and the fact that he’s a candidate to return punts.
- Tight End: I have to say, I did not feel confident about putting Seth DeValve as the No. 3 tight end. Don’t get me wrong — I still like the guy, but the Browns already have so many weapons who can catch the ball, that they may prefer their third tight end be a blocking tight end. I just don’t know who that is right now, so DeValve sticks around for now.
- Offensive Line: It’ll be interesting to see who wins the starting right guard job, but I’m keeping all the candidates on the roster for depth purposes anyway. Kendall Lamm could sneak on the roster if the team wants another offensive tackle for depth.
- Defensive Line: You know what’s funny is that I thought I would easily be stacking 10-11 players at this position when I made my list. Instead, after I listed the first four, I put Chris Smith and Chad Thomas on there by default to make six, but looked at the rest of the group and thought, “Hmmm, the depth here is weaker than I thought.”
- Linebacker: The Browns will rely on a mix of rookies and average veterans to improve their depth at linebacker this year -- I’m speaking to the likes of Sione Takitaki, Mack Wilson, and Adarius Taylor.
- Safety: Is four safeties enough? I think so — the team has Damarious Randall and Morgan Burnett penciled in as starters, and after that, a rookie and a veteran also trying to make an impression. Adding a fifth safety could happen if Jermaine Whitehead is needed for special teams, but I’d lean heavier on cornerback.
- Cornerback: With a new defensive coordinator, we at least know that Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams are safe. After that? Who knows. I loved Terrance Mitchell last year and T.J. Carrie improved later in the season, but sometimes, players just fall out of favor. I am stacking the depth for now with Phillip Gaines and rookie Donnie Lewis Jr.
- Special Teams: The question mark here is at kicker, where I’m keeping Greg Joseph for now. Punter could also be a question mark if the Scottish Hammer impresses, but we’ll see on that.
- The single asterisks on the cut side represent my projected practice squad, which includes RB D’Ernest Johnson, WR Damion Ratley, WR Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, OL Brad Seaton, DL Daniel Ekuale, DL Devaroe Lawrence, LB Willie Harvey, S J.T. Hassell, S Tigie Sankoh, CB Robert Jackson, and K Austin Seibert.
One thing I noticed this year is that while there is a lot of starting talent that I love for the Browns, and some backups that I know will make it too, there are legitimately 10 spots on my 53-man roster that I look at and think, “I’m not really emotionally invested or sold on this guy making the final roster.” That is a good thing, because it should spark some good competition among the backups in camp, where hopefully some players really stand out to distance themselves from the rest.
Feel free to share your roster projections here, or some changes you would make to mine.