It is time for my 53-man roster projection for the Cleveland Browns. General Manager Andrew Berry will have to trim the roster from 80 players to 53 players by 4:00 PM ET on Tuesday, August 31. This projection is based on the weeks of training camp reports, the preseason games to date, and my general instincts.
There is still one preseason game to go, but teams often announce roster cuts the day after the final game, so I wanted there to be some lead time for everyone to discuss their own projections.
Browns 53-Man Roster Projection
|Pos||Final Roster||Practice Squad (Cut)||Players Cut / IR / Opt-Out|
|Andy Janovich||Johnny Stanton|
|Odell Beckham Jr.
|Ja'Marcus Bradley||KhaDarel Hodge
Davion Davis (suspended)
|Jordan Franks||Kyle Markaway|
|Jedrick Wills Jr.
James Hudson III
Tony Fields II
|Tegray Scales||Malcolm Smith
Willie Harvey Jr.
|John Johnson III
Ronnie Harrison Jr.
Richard LeCounte III
Greg Newsome II
|Emmanuel Rugamba||M.J. Stewart Jr.
The list above contains 53 players that I kept. Because practice squads are so big this year (16 players), I have created a specific column for those players too.
General Roster Projection Notes
- This was by far the biggest “initial” list I’ve had when I did my first pass-through of the final roster — I had 60 players listed. Then, it was up to me to decide who those final 7 cuts would be.
- Those final seven cuts consisted of some big names: RB D’Ernest Johnson, WR KhaDarel Hodge, DT Andrew Billings, DE Curtis Weaver, LB Malcolm Smith, S Sheldrick Redwine, and CB M.J. Stewart. Let’s go position-by-position, and I’ll include my thoughts on some of those moves.
- The quarterback question comes down to Case Keenum vs. Kyle Lauletta, but I think you just easily keep all three guys by having Lauletta on the practice squad.
- It’s tough cutting D’Ernest Johnson, because he’s worthy of making a 53-man roster. But with the drafting of Demetric Felton, and the intent to use him for some snaps on gameday, I think you lose the luxury of keeping an extra “running back” if you’re also keeping as made wide receivers as I am. I have Johnson being on the practice squad, although that probably won’t actually happen.
- At wide receiver, I feel pretty good about what I selected. I will definitely miss KhaDarel Hodge, but it sounds like he’s gone. Cleveland is definitely keeping their top four wide receivers, and then rookie Anthony Schwartz is going to make the roster because I believe the playbook will have some surprise plays in place for him to utilize his speed. Then, I have JoJo Natson making the roster as the return man. I think he can be an X-factor weapon who provides that key touchdown in a game this season that makes the difference between winning and losing. Davion Davis will begin on the suspension list, and should go on the practice squad after that.
- I am keeping three tight ends, which might be a mistake, given the fact that Stephen Carlson was probably a lock to make it prior to his injury. Will the Browns carry a fourth tight end, either Jordan Franks or Johnny Stanton, just for the sake of having a fourth tight end? Maybe, but I am giving that spot to an extra offensive lineman instead.
- Right now, I have both Michael Dunn and Blake Hance making the final roster. That gives the Browns five solid depth guys on the offensive line. However, I’m half-expecting one of those two guys to be on the practice squad instead — it just comes down to which guy Cleveland would rather expose to waivers. Keep in mind that Dunn was on the practice squad all of last season, while Hance was poached from the Jets’ practice squad.
- The defensive tackle position was by far the toughest position for me to pick. I had six guys under consideration, and I’m keeping five of them, even though a team should really only keep four defensive tackles on the roster. It’s a whole mess. Andrew Billings might be viewed as a surprise cut, but I haven’t been impressed by the way he’s looked this preseason after opting out in 2020. Meanwhile, Malik McDowell has shown some promise as he tries to return to the league, and Sheldon Day might be able to offer some more consistency. I don’t think Tommy Togiai quite earned a 53-man roster spot yet, but he was a fourth round pick.
- It would be more ideal to shave one of the defensive tackles off and keep an extra defensive end like Joe Jackson or Curtis Weaver, so we’ll see how that unfolds.
- At linebacker, I felt like putting Jordan Phillips on IR right away, so that the team doesn’t have to risk exposing someone to being claimed. Doing so would rule out Phillips for the entire season, though. The way around it? I think Cleveland could do a handshake deal with veteran Malcolm Smith, who can’t be claimed off waivers. They can tell him they are keeping Phillips initially, putting him on IR afterward, and then re-sign Smith. Tony Fields is another guy who makes the roster solely because he was a fifth-round pick.
- Greedy Williams hasn’t had the best camp as he tries to return from a shoulder injury (and other ailments now), but I’m still keeping him for depth. I think A.J. Green has shown enough to warrant making the back end of the depth chart.
- At the safety position, it comes down to a numbers game. Cleveland added two new safeties this year in John Johnson III and Richard LeCounte III, and LeCounte has had a promising preseason. Grant Delpit is expected to be back for Week 1 or early in the season. That could leave Sheldrick Redwine on the outside looking in.
- Unless another team cuts a reliable kicker, I think Chase McLaughlin’s job is secure.
What Do You Think?
Feel free to share your roster projections here, or some changes you would make to mine.