The slew of 2013 Cleveland Browns offseason activities kicked off with the annual rookie training camp on May 10.
While this may not be a good testing ground to judge new potential players, it is a good starting point for the team's coaching staff to begin its initial evaluations.
We still have a long way to go until preseason cuts are made, and anything can and will happen during this long learning process. Those rookies who adapt quickly and step up big may be given a shot at their lifelong dream: a chance to play NFL football.
The journey doesn't end for those who don't make the cut, but it's a long and trying road to get over that first hurdle. Practice squad jobs are up for grabs too, making each player's performance crucial to fulfilling his goals.
It's still early, but this is one way the Browns could end up shaping their 53-man roster once opening day rolls around.
First, we'll take a look at a full position-by-position roster prediction for the 2013 Cleveland Browns. Things may change as training camp progresses. Undrafted free agents may shine in camp and surprise all of us.
Injuries and other things may pop up in the form of suspensions (Joe Haden, 2012) and trades, but it's hard to see any incumbents losing their jobs this offseason.
After adding several key players through offseason trades and the draft already, the Browns appear to be building a solid roster with depth at key positions. Those players have game experience and will be crucial for the Browns as they attempt to dig themselves out of the cellar of the AFC North.
Early Cleveland Browns 53-man Roster Projection
QB: Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell
RB: Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, Dion Lewis, Chris Ogbonnaya
FB: Owen Marecic, Brad Smelley
WR: Josh Gordon, Greg Little, Davone Bess, David Nelson, Travis Benjamin, Jordan Norwood
TE: Jordan Cameron, Kellen Davis, Gary Barnidge
OT: Joe Thomas, Mitchell Schwartz, Rashad Butler
OG/C: Alex Mack, Shawn Lauvao, Jason Pinkston, John Greco, Ryan Miller
DL: Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor, Desmond Bryant, John Hughes, Billy Winn, Armonty Bryant, Brian Sanford
OLB: Jabaal Sheard, Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo, Quentin Groves
ILB: D'Qwell Jackson, Craig Robertson, L.J. Fort, James-Michael Johnson
CB: Joe Haden, Leon McFadden, Johnson Bademosi, Buster Skrine, Chris Owens, Trevin Wade
S: T.J. Ward, Tashaun Gipson, Eric Hagg, Jamoris Slaughter
K: Shayne Graham
P: Spencer Lanning
LS: Christian Yount
Projected QBs: Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell
Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell will compete for the head quarterback duties of the 2013 Cleveland Browns.
Weeden has been working with the first team during organized team activities (OTAs), but head coach Rob Chudzinski is not ready to commit to the 29-year-old sophomore QB just yet.
Campbell, a 31-year-old NFL veteran looking for another chance, was coming into his own when an injury sidelined him in 2011. He then spent much of 2012 as a backup to Jay Cutler on the Chicago Bears roster. Campbell is expected to push Weeden, but he will have to really shine to surpass the team's strong-armed first-round pick from 2012.
Thaddeus Lewis, the team's third-string quarterback, was former head coach Pat Shurmur's project. He will probably fall victim to the numbers game once roster cuts occur.
Projected RBs: Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, Dion Lewis, Chris Ogbonnaya
Projected FBs: Owen Marecic, Brad Smelley
The running back position is one of the less contested groups on the Cleveland Browns roster.
No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson will almost definitely be given the bulk of the carries in 2013, but there's a chance Montario Hardesty, Dion Lewis and Chris Ogbonnaya may contribute to give him a breather.
Lewis is a shifty and quick back who could perform well in a third-down role. Hardesty is more of a slasher who, when healthy, can bounce outside the tackles to pick up big chunks when Richardson is on the sidelines.
Projected WRs: Josh Gordon, Greg Little, Davone Bess, David Nelson, Travis Benjamin, Jordan Norwood
Once a position of weakness, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver corps looks to be ready to take the next step in 2013.
The team added free agent David Nelson and traded for former Miami Dolphins WR Davone Bess on Day 2 of the NFL draft.
Those two veterans will join youngsters Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin to complete a group of pass-catchers who have a variety of beneficial skill sets.
The final roster spot of the group will likely come down to Jordan Norwood and Josh Cooper. Both receivers are shifty underneath options who can get open in space. Of the two, expect Norwood to win the battle if he can stay on the field.
Projected TEs: Jordan Cameron, Kellen Davis, Gary Barnidge
The Cleveland Browns let veteran tight ends Benjamin Watson and Alex Smith walk in free agency and opted to bring in Kellen Davis and Gary Barnidge.
Davis washed out as the primary pass-catching tight end in Chicago, while Barnidge, a relatively unproven option, followed Rob Chudzinski from Carolina to Cleveland.
Jordan Cameron projects to be the team's starter at the position. The former college basketball player and fourth-round draft pick will have his shot to establish himself as a dynamic option in Norv Turner's tight end-friendly offense.
Projected OTs: Joe Thomas, Mitchell Schwartz, Rashad Butler
Projected OGs/Cs: Alex Mack, Shawn Lauvao, Jason Pinkston, John Greco, Ryan Miller
Offensive line hasn't been much of a problem for the Cleveland Browns either. However, they have brought in several players to presumably beef up their depth in the trenches.
Rashad Butler, a free-agent offensive tackle with injury problems, may be in line for backup duty behind Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz on the outside.
Rookie Garrett Gilkey is certainly a promising prospect, but he will likely take time to develop and could end up on the practice squad initially due to the numbers game.
The guard position is the biggest question mark on an otherwise solid unit.
Will Shawn Lauvao be replaced by a healthy Jason Pinkston? John Greco stepped in and performed well a season ago after Pinkston was sidelined by medical concerns.
Whatever the team decides, it needs to find a solid group that can collectively create a push up front to open up lanes for Trent Richardson. Establishing the run will help Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner stretch the field with big-armed quarterback Brandon Weeden (assuming he is named starting QB).
Projected DLs: Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor, Desmond Bryant, John Hughes, Billy Winn, Armonty Bryant, Brian Sanford
Phil Taylor and Ahytba Rubin may both be in consideration for the Browns' nose tackle position in their new 3-4 scheme.
Taylor, a 6'3", 335-pounder, is athletic and strong enough to play two gaps upfront. Presuming he is the starter, he will likely be surrounding by Rubin and new acquisition Desmond Bryant.
Bryant is another quick defender with good hands who can penetrate the line of scrimmage and disrupt plays before they develop.
As a unit, there is strong depth in John Hughes, Billy Winn, Brian Sanford and Armonty Bryant. All four of the projected backups have game experience and will be worked into the different variations Ray Horton will run with his front seven.
Projected OLBs: Jabaal Sheard, Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo, Quentin Groves
Finding a dominant pass-rusher was the biggest task of the new Cleveland Browns management team.
Adding Desmond Bryant to the defensive line was a good start, but it wasn't enough. The team picked up two edge-rushers in Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo to be the staples of their new 3-4 defensive front.
Also in the mix is defensive end Jabaal Sheard. The Browns will likely work Sheard into the equation in a number of ways to exploit matchups, create confusion and ultimately disrupt opposing quarterbacks.
With dynamic athletes like Sheard, Kruger and Mingo all on the field at the same time, Ray Horton will have the flexibility to interchange players and utilize their strengths to best fit his attacking defense.
Projected ILBs: D'Qwell Jackson, Craig Robertson, L.J. Fort, James-Michael Johnson
D'Qwell Jackson has been an essential playmaker in the middle of the Cleveland Browns defense for several years. He'll continue to be a key component of the team's new 3-4 defense as an on-field leader and signal-caller for the unit.
Besides Jackson, second-year players L.J. Fort, Craig Robertson and James-Michael Johnson will likely battle it out for playing time. All three have shown promise when given opportunities.
Robertson made the most out of his chances in 2012, but he was far from consistent. He did record 67 solo tackles but he also missed 13 and was suspect in pass coverage at times.
A new defense means this group could look much different than it initially appears, but there's a lot to like about each of these inside linebackers.
Projected CBs: Joe Haden, Leon McFadden, Johnson Bademosi, Buster Skrine, Chris Owens, Trevin Wade
The Cleveland Browns have several options at cornerback to replace departed veteran defensive back Sheldon Brown.
Rookie Leon McFadden is undersized at 5'10", but he plays with intensity, athleticism and instinct. He appears to be the likely starter opposite of Joe Haden on opening day. But that still has to be determined.
Buster Skrine got some work on the outside in 2012 but is best suited for the nickelback position. Skrine is a willing and capable tackle who is quick and can stick to shifty slot receivers. He was picked on when put on the outside.
Sophomore DB Johnson Bademosi may get a crack at the cornerback position again in 2013. His chances were limited in 2012, but he did well in relief duty during the Browns' Week 11 overtime loss in Dallas. Bademosi scored a key third-down pass deflection that forced a Cowboys punt in the opening minutes of OT.
Projected SSs: T.J. Ward, Jamoris Slaughter
Projected FSs: Tashaun Gipson, Eric Hagg
Ray Horton likes to utilize his safeties in a multitude of different ways. That might explain why the Cleveland Browns selected Jamoris Slaughter in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Slaughter played all over the defensive backfield and even stepped up at linebacker at times for the Fighting Irish. His hard-nosed style and ability to jam receivers will make him a versatile tool for Horton to deploy at his choosing.
T.J. Ward is a proven commodity in the NFL. His ability to read and react while effectively pursuing plays as they develop has made him a staple on the Browns defense.
Second-year free safety Tashaun Gipson had a heavy workload in 2012 and could be on the verge of a breakout season. He wasn't spectacular by any means in his rookie season, but he did perform at the level of play expected of an NFL starter.
Eric Hagg was benched in favor of Gipson after struggling in the early weeks of the 2012 campaign. He did improve, but he still struggled after being worked back into the rotation in the defensive backfield.
Projected K: Shayne Graham
Projected P: Spencer Lanning
Projected LS: Christian Yount
The Cleveland Browns' kicking game will look completely different in 2013.
Franchise kicker Phil Dawson is gone, and Shayne Graham appears to be his immediate replacement. Graham connected on 81.6 percent of his attempts in 2012, including 100 percent from one to 39 yards and 7-of-9 from 40 to 49 yards. His biggest struggles came on the long ball, as he hit just four of his nine attempt from 50 or more yards away.
Spencer Lanning has been with the Browns in the past. He was edged out by Reggie Hodges during camp last year, but he could finally earn his spot with the team. Lanning has also played in the UFL and played short stints with the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.