Projected Cleveland Browns Final 53-Man Roster, Pre-Training Camp Edition

Will BurgeContributor IJuly 17, 2014

Projected Cleveland Browns Final 53-Man Roster, Pre-Training Camp Edition

0 of 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    We are less than a week away from the Cleveland Browns opening training camp. Many anticipate that there will be heated position battles all over the field.

    While some players, such as cornerback Joe Haden and tackle Joe Thomas, have locked up their starting spots, many others are up for grabs. Head coach Mike Pettine has no allegiances to the players on the roster, so spots will have to be earned.

    As you look at the Browns roster, there is a nice mix of youth and veteran talent. The mix is so intriguing that ProFootballTalk.com has the Browns 22nd in its preseason power rankings.

    It’s tough to say just how good the team will be as a whole, but we can project who will be part of that team. Let’s take a stab at the 53 men who will still be wearing an orange helmet once training camp closes.

Quarterback

1 of 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Brian Hoyer

    Johnny Manziel

    Tyler Thigpen

    The Browns will likely keep three quarterbacks for multiple reasons. The first is the fact that Brian Hoyer is returning from a season-ending knee injury and no one truly knows how it will hold up. In case Hoyer were to go down, the Browns need to have another backup quarterback on the roster.

    The other reason is that both Hoyer and Johnny Manziel have combined for just four starts in the NFL. The Browns need an experienced voice on the sidelines that can help dissect defenses with the young quarterbacks. Thigpen has experience in this offense and will hold the clipboard on Sundays.

    I also expect Connor Shaw to be placed on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Running Back

2 of 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Ben Tate

    Terrance West

    Isaiah Crowell

    This will be the hardest position group for the Browns coaching staff and front office to cut down. They have such a deep pool of talent in training camp that they will inevitably have to cut someone that they would love to keep.

    Also, the Browns will have to carry extra linebackers and wide receivers because of depth issues. This will force them to trim fat somewhere else, and running back seems like a likely place.

    Ben Tate and Terrance West are obvious names, but undrafted free-agent rookie Isaiah Crowell will steal the final running back spot from more established names with pure talent. If he gets touches in the preseason, he will outshine everyone else easily.

Wide Receiver

3 of 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Miles Austin

    Andrew Hawkins

    Nate Burleson

    Josh Gordon

    Chandler Jones

    Willie Snead

    Travis Benjamin

    Charles Johnson

    The Browns will not want to keep eight wide receivers but will be forced to do so because of Josh Gordon’s impending suspension. If he misses the entire season, then they will receive a roster exemption, but if he does not, they will be forced to carry Gordon as an extra body.

    This opens the door for guys like Charles Johnson, Willie Snead and Chandler Jones to make the squad and possibly even contribute.

    The Browns will also need to carry extra receivers because of the questionable health of Miles Austin and Nate Burleson. Neither has proven he is ready to come back and contribute at full capacity. Until they do, the Browns will need to forge ahead with extra bodies.

Tight End

4 of 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Jordan Cameron

    Jim Dray

    MarQueis Gray

    The tight end position is a little jumbled as well. Jordan Cameron obviously has a roster spot after his fantastic performance last season, when he emerged as one of the best young tight ends in the NFL. It would also seem that Jim Dray has a roster spot after the Browns signed him to a three-year, $5.625 million contract.

    The final tight end spot will probably be decided between Gary Barnidge and MarQueis Gray. Barnidge, who was very underwhelming last season, will have a hard time holding off Gray because of the latter's versatility.

    Gray not only can play tight end, but he can also shift into the backfield and play quarterback in the Wildcat formation. More importantly, he has been taking snaps as a fullback throughout camp. This will be the difference in him making the roster.

Offensive Line

5 of 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Joel Bitonio

    Garrett Gilkey

    John Greco

    Alex Mack

    Paul McQuistan

    Jason Pinkston

    Mitchell Schwartz

    Joe Thomas

    The Browns are in very good shape on the offensive line this season. This is not just because they were able to bring back Alex Mack on a long-term deal, sign Paul McQuistan from Seattle and draft a young, talented guy like Joel Bitonio.

    The reason they are in such good shape is because of the versatility along the line. Bitonio, McQuistan, Schwartz and Greco can all play either guard or tackle, and Greco can even play center. This will allow the Browns a ton of flexibility when they hit the inevitable injuries that happen in the trenches.

Defensive Line

6 of 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Desmond Bryant

    Armonty Bryant

    John Hughes

    Ishmaa’ily Kitchen

    Ahtyba Rubin

    Phil Taylor

    Billy Winn

    Jacobbi McDaniel

    At the beginning of the 2013 season, it looked as though the Browns defensive line was the deepest part of the roster. That was even before the team found out that Armonty Bryant can actually play and signed undrafted free agent Jacobbi McDaniel.

    This season, the line doesn’t just look deep—it looks dominant. It will be very difficult for defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil to decide who gets reps throughout the game because there is very little drop-off from the top of the heap to the bottom.

    One thing is for surethe Browns will never have to worry about tired legs, as they will have a very deep rotation of big men up front this season.

Linebacker

7 of 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Tank Carder

    Karlos Dansby

    Chris Kirksey

    Paul Kruger

    Brandon Magee

    Barkevious Mingo

    Craig Robertson

    Jabaal Sheard

    The Browns' linebacker corps severely underperformed last season, and there were not many changes made in the offseason. It looks like the front office is hoping that a new defensive scheme and another year of experience will do this group well.

    Inside linebacker is probably the position at which the Browns are thinnest and need to look for reinforcements. While this is the group currently predicted to make the final 53-man roster, the team will almost assuredly look for help from players who are cut during training camp around the league

    Currently, Craig Robertson is the starting inside linebacker next to Karlos Dansby, and I would not be surprised if the person who starts at that spot in Week 1 is not even on the Browns roster yet.

Cornerback

8 of 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Justin Gilbert

    Pierre Desir

    Joe Haden

    Buster Skrine

    Leon McFadden

    For months I have written about the possibility of 2013 third-round draft pick Leon McFadden being cut from the Browns, and now I have him on the roster. So what happened?

    Well, a lack of choices is what happened. McFadden will currently be the benefactor of a shallow pool at cornerback for the Browns. He is smaller in stature and cannot play outside the way Pettine would normally like. Fortunately for him, he will be the most skilled of the guys fighting for the final cornerback spot.

    If he does make the roster, he will probably find himself as the backup to Buster Skrine at the nickelback position.

Safety

9 of 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Josh Aubrey

    Tashaun Gipson

    Donte Whitner

    Johnson Bademosi

    The safety position is very interesting for the Browns this season. The starting duo of Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner is as formidable as you will find in the NFL. Unfortunately, behind them is a bunch of unknown.

    Johnson Bademosi and Josh Aubrey played sparingly last season and are better as special teams guys. If they are forced into playing time because of injury, it could get ugly. The bright side of the situation is that in Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme, the safety is less of a priority than in other schemes.

    The pressure his defense applies from the middle can usually mask deficiencies in the secondary.

Special Teams

10 of 11

    David Richard/Associated Press

    Billy Cundiff

    Spencer Lanning

    Christian Yount

    The Browns' specialty players will be pretty standard this season, as they will carry a kicker, punter and long snapper. Billy Cundiff, who earned a new contract this season, proved he was consistent enough to hold the job lasts season.

    Spencer Lanning did a solid job at punter, and as long as people don’t know who Christian Yount is, then he is doing his job just fine.

Final 53-Man Roster

11 of 11

    USA TODAY Sports

    Quarterback

    Brian Hoyer

    Johnny Manziel

    Tyler Thigpen

     

    Running Back

    Ben Tate

    Terrance West

    Isaiah Crowell

     

    Wide Receiver

    Miles Austin

    Andrew Hawkins

    Nate Burleson

    Josh Gordon

    Chandler Jones

    Willie Snead

    Travis Benjamin

    Charles Johnson

     

    Tight End

    Jordan Cameron

    Jim Dray

    MarQueis Gray

     

    Offensive Line

    Joel Bitonio

    Garrett Gilkey

    John Greco

    Alex Mack

    Paul McQuistan

    Jason Pinkston

    Mitchell Schwartz

    Joe Thomas

     

    Defensive line

    Desmond Bryant

    Armonty Bryant

    John Hughes

    Ishmaa’ily Kitchen

    Ahtyba Rubin

    Phil Taylor

    Billy Winn

    Jacobbi McDaniel

     

    Linebacker

    Tank Carder

    Karlos Dansby

    Chris Kirksey

    Paul Kruger

    Brandon Magee

    Barkevious Mingo

    Craig Robertson

    Jabaal Sheard

     

    Cornerback

    Justin Gilbert

    Pierre Desir

    Joe Haden

    Buster Skrine

    Leon McFadden

     

    Safety

    Josh Aubrey

    Tashaun Gipson

    Donte Whitner

    Johnson Bademosi

     

    Special teams

    Billy Cundiff

    Spencer Lanning

    Christian Yount