For the first time in a long time, the Cleveland Browns do not have huge decisions to make at the top of their roster. Instead, fans and media have been mostly focused on the final few roster spots (along with kicker conversations).
For once, outside of kicker and third running back, the hope isn’t that the answer to problems will come from players discarded by other teams on the waiver wire.
That doesn’t make 53-man roster projections easy. Our Chris Pokorny presented DBN’s final projection Saturday afternoon and had one big omission, LB Mohamoud Diabate.
The Browns are not exactly stout when it comes to the linebacker position. In a perfect world, they would open up the season with a healthy trio of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Anthony Walker Jr. and Sione Takitaki as the group that takes the majority of the snaps.
The problem with that scenario is that Walker and Takitaki are still on the mend from the season-ending injuries they suffered in 2022. While Walker is presumably further along than Takitaki since he was injured earlier in the season, there are still legitimate reasons to question if one or both will be ready for a full slate of snaps in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
If not, the team will have to once again turn to Jordan Kunaszyk or Tony Fields II for playing time, which has not always worked out so well in the past. Kunaszyk, who left Saturday’s game with a knee injury and did not return, and Fields, who left Saturday in concussion protocol, might be nice to have on special teams, and that should not be discounted, but you pretty much know what you are going to get from them if you have to rely on them on defense, and that is not a particularly warm and fuzzy thought.
As much as coaches love familiarity when it comes to players, this could be a case where rather than going with the tried-and-true, the Browns should look at the rookie Diabate, who despite being an undrafted free agent flashed enough during the preseason to earn a spot on the initial 53-man roster.
Diabate has held up pretty well on defense in the preseason and has seen time on special teams, which is always a plus when you are trying to grab one of the final roster spots. He also appears to have the backing of general manager Andrew Berry, who commented during Saturday’s game that Diabate is “in a good place heading into cutdown.”
Given the current state of the linebackers, combined with Kunaszyk’s injury and Berry’s comments, we feel pretty confident in backing Diabate as a player deserving of a roster spot.
Is Diabate the one player you would pound the table for to make the roster that wasn’t on Pokorny’s final projection or would you have someone else in mind?