Now that the draft is over we can take a really early look ahead to roster cutdowns after training camp and see whose spot is potentially in doubt. Obviously, they could add more talent in free agency and trades or move on from players in trades but this is working on no more additions. Even though I expect Andrew Berry to keep working the trade market and add a veteran defensive back.
For each position I have included how many roster spots there are likely to be, the players who are locks (99%+ chance) to make the roster, open spots, players battling for the 53, and those competing for a practice squad spot. With the defensive line, we are expected to keep 9 players so it could be a 5th edge or interior defender. In terms of back seven on the defense, we will keep at least 5 linebackers, 5 corners, and 4 safeties, then there will be two more spots depending on which players step up and perform the best on special teams.
Quarterbacks – 2
No surprises here, Mayfield and Keenum and locks. This will be Keenum’s final year on the roster though.
Running Backs/Fullbacks – 4
Chubb, Hunt, and Janovich are locks but a straight battle between Felton and Johnson will take place, Felton is the favorite as long as he can contribute on special teams.
Wide Receivers – 6
Beckham, Landry, Higgins, Peoples-Jones, and Schwartz are the five we know. Then we have a battle between Hodge and Natson for the final spot. If Hodge wins they will likely get him to take a pay-cut from his $2,133,000 restricted free agent tender to remain with the team.
Tight Ends – 4
The top three names (Hooper, Njoku & Bryant) are locks but don’t be surprised if Njoku gets traded if they can find good value for him. Carlson is a great special teamer but if they find another UDFA that can do the job they could easily go a different direction.
Tackles – 4
We know Wills & Conklin are locked in at starter, they must really like Hudson to take him at the top of day three making him a lock. The next tackle spot will depend on how quickly Hudson settles into the position, they would prefer not to be paying $3.75m for Hubbard to be a backup so if Hudson is ready expect them to make him offensive tackle three and give the fourth spot to Taylor or Senat for development.
Guards – 3
Bitonio & Teller are locked in here but they have lots of different choices for the backup. If Hubbard isn’t needed as an offensive tackle they could shift him here if none of the youngster shine. We have three players with little to no playing time each: Dunn, Hance, and Forbes. Bill Callahan will have to decide if they want upside here or an expensive proven talent like Hubbard.
Centres – 2
Tretter & Harris are locked in, they will hope to keep developing him to be a potential replacement for Tretter when the time comes to move on.
Edge Defenders – 4/5
The three big names are locks in Garrett, Clowney & McKinley. I would expect five edges on the roster so you would assume Gustin & Weaver are good but you never know after the late addition to the defensive line room of Wilson meaning the 5th rated edge will go head to head with the 5th rated defensive tackle.
Interior Defenders – 4/5
We know Jackson, Billings, and Togiai will make the roster. Elliott would have been a lock without the addition of Wilson, now I only give him a 75% chance of making the roster. He was a third-round pick but didn’t do too much last year so if Weaver and Wilson flash he could be at risk on this loaded roster.
Linebackers – 5/6
I had expected them to keep five linebackers this season but after the draft, we now know six are in play. It is very heavy for special teams players so even though they won’t play many snaps in Wood’s nickel and dime defense they are important to the roster. JOK, Walker, and Phillips are locked in. Then we have a battle between Takitaki, Smith, Wilson & Fields. I would expect Wilson to be out as the worst in the group last year and Field to have a good chance due to being a 5th round pick but they can easily be cut. Smith’s deal is easily tradable so that could be a route they go with if they want extra defensive backs on the roster.
Cornerbacks – 5/6
We know four names in Ward, Newsome, Hill, and Williams are locks for the roster. Then we have MJ Stewart and Green competing with the linebackers and safeties for the final spots at the end of the roster. Stewart was very impressive on special teams in 2020. We could easily see a free agent addition like Gareon Conley to strengthen this room.
Safeties – 4/5
I had expected five safeties to be a lock with Woods aiming to get three on the field at a time but after the draft, there is a lack of talent here. We know Johnson, Delpit and Harrison are locked in for the team. They could easily see JOK and Fields as strong safety two and three this season so that might allow them to carry four. LeCounte will battle Redwine for the roster before the loser goes head to head with the 6th linebacker and corner in special teams to make the 53.
Special Teams – 3
The fact many Browns fans don’t know Hughlett’s name is a testament to how well he has played the last few years you only hear their name when something goes wrong. The Scottish Hammer should be good to make the roster but saw an average year last year after his amazing rookie season so could face UDFA competition. Parkey came back on a deal that says he is primed for camp competition but he is the favorite to open the season kicking for the Browns.
The roster is absolutely loaded, despite having so many camp competitions it is great to see they are between multiple players worthy of roster spots. The Browns players that lose a battle for the 53 likely ends up making other teams rosters before the Browns can get them on their practice squads. It is going to be exciting to see this team take shape over the summer.
Any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @JackDuffin. The DMs are open for any salary cap/roster construction questions you have.