Cleveland Browns: Attempt at Predicting the 53-Man Roster

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The NFL graciously waived the white flag for the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, with the 2016 preseason finally coming to an end.

Let’s be honest, nobody was truly expecting much from a Browns team that added 14 rookies in the 2016 NFL Draft and had parted ways—via free agency or through cuts—with a good majority of the veterans on the roster. However, some fans were expecting to see signs of life in extended play against Tampa Bay in Week 3, or at least a few flashes from rookies in Week 4.

Given the mixed bag of results that we were privileged to witness this preseason, predicting the 53-man roster is not going to be easy. But hey, since I like a good challenge—here goes nothing.

**Oh, and I am not picking a punter because they were awful in the final preseason game, instead I am leaving an open spot.

Quarterback (3)

Robert Griffin III
Josh McCown
Cody Kessler

Running Back (3)

Isaiah Crowell
Duke Johnson Jr.
Raheem Mostert

Fullback (1)

Malcolm Johnson

Wide Receiver (6)

Corey Coleman
Terrelle Pryor Sr.
Rashard Higgins
Taylor Gabriel
Ricardo Louis
Marlon Moore

Tight End (3)

Gary Barnidge
Randall Telfer
Seth DeValve

Offensive Line (8)

Joe Thomas
Joel Bitonio
Cameron Erving
John Greco
Austin Pasztor
Shon Coleman
Spencer Drango
Alvin Bailey

Defensive Line (6)

Xavier Cooper
Danny Shelton
Jamie Meder
Carl Nassib
John Hughes
Stephen Paea

Linebackers (9)

Nate Orchard
Emmanuel Ogbah
Demario Davis
Christian Kirksey
Joe Schobert
Tank Carder
Dominique Alexander
Scooby Wright
Cam Johnson

Cornerbacks (6)

Joe Haden
Jamar Taylor
Tramon Williams
Justin Gilbert
Trey Caldwell
Eric Patterson

Related:   Browns Zone Episode 6: We Tried a Crossover and This Happened
Safeties (5)

Ibraheim Campbell
Jordan Poyer
Derrick Kindred
Pierre Desir
Rahim Moore

Specialists (3)

Patrick Murray (K)
Open Spot for Punter (P)
Charley Hughlett (LS)

Suspended (Do not count toward 53)

Josh Gordon
Armonty Bryant

Couple of Thoughts on My Decisions

  • Honestly, the wide receiver position was tougher than I thought. All along I had Andrew Hawkins penciled in, but after watching Higgins progress during camp and the preseason, he pretty much fills Hawkins’ role.
  • Louis, Moore and Gabriel make the roster over Hawkins and rookie Jordan Payton, who the Browns will likely attempt to stash on the practice squad. Not that either Louis or Payton have done much in the preseason, but Louis’ deep-threat ability earns him the nod. And Moore just will not go away, but he is a special teams favorite. With Louis a little banged up, Gabriel makes the roster because of his speed/deep-threat ability. Look for Gabriel or Moore to be the odd man out when Gordon returns.
  • I was only keeping seven offensive linemen until (H/T @RyInCbus on Twitter)…

  • Bailey earned a top offensive grade from the folks at Pro Football Focus, and with an analytics based front office that was good enough for me (he also looked good at times on film and can provide insurance with his versatility on the line).
  • Yes, I understand I kept 11 defensive backs. But when you only have one or two that are true starters and a defensive coordinator who comes with a DB background, chances are that he is going to want to try and develop a few. Also (once again H/T @RyInCbus on Twitter), the fine folks at Pro Football Focus gave Patterson and Moore high marks on defense, which will not go unnoticed by the front office.

My Chance to Sit on the Fence

Though I made the predictions above here are a few scenarios I could see playing out.

  • Hawkins over Gabriel: Hawkins has a past with head coach Hue Jackson, so the team could keep the veteran on the roster thanks to his cheap price tag and familiarity with the system.
  • Jason O’Neill over one of the defensive backs: With the Browns cutting Paul Kruger, the team could opt to keep a 10th linebacker to help for depth purposes.
  • Sign a recently cut player and cut one of the fringe guys: This is always a possibility as there will be surprise cuts. With the deadline not until September 3th at 4 p.m., some players could come available and replace some of the fringe 53-man roster guys.
Related:   Browns Zone Episode 5: Talking Offensive NFL Draft Needs

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Bob is the Founder, Site Director and Senior Writer of Cleveland Sports Zone. He has been writing about sports for over nine years thanks to his passion for Cleveland sports and a Journalism degree. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, ESPN, USA Today and other major sports networks.

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