Predicting the Cleveland Browns' First Wave of Roster Cuts
The preseason is just around the bend and that means the Cleveland Browns are in the middle of deciding which players will be part of their 75-man roster.
Figuring out which guys will make up the first wave of cuts is important. The NFL requires that each roster in the league is trimmed down to 75 players by Aug. 26.
Cutting down the Browns roster won't be easy. Head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer have brought in a ton of guys this summer who are looking to make a name for themselves. Judging the level of talent and how said talent fits in with the offensive and defensive schemes can be a tricky proposition.
It's going to be up to Pettine and his staff to evaluate all of the names in camp and field the best roster possible.
By taking an in-depth scan of how the roster looks right now and combining it with news reports we've heard from media sources and the coaches themselves, we're able to anticipate some of the names we probably won't be seeing after that fateful day at the end of this month.
Here are some predictions and analysis on those Cleveland Browns players who won't survive the first wave of roster cuts.
Bidding Farewell to Jason Pinkston
After what started off as a confusing situation, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Browns have reached an injury settlement with offensive lineman Jason Pinkston due to blood clots in his lungs once again.
"More than likely I'll have to retire," Pinkston told Schefter. The Browns will release the 26-year-old, ending his three-year run with the team.
It's a sad turn of events for a guy who became a part of this talented offensive line in 2011. Pinkston started all 16 games during his rookie season at left guard before developing a blood clot in his lungs during the 2012 campaign.
The circumstances surrounding Pinkston's medical condition were originally shrouded in secrecy. Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reported that Coach Pettine at one point wouldn't comment on his absence from camp.
The secret though was finally let out of the bag when the Browns released a statement, per Zac Jackson of Fox Sport Ohio, that he wasn't medically cleared to step onto the field.
On one side of the coin, it's tragic to see a young man's career cut short. On the other side of that coin, it may be a blessing that will allow him to focus on his health and live a long and healthy life.
The Browns will certainly miss Pinkston's services this season, but a man's health takes precedence over the game of football 100 percent of the time.
Sure to Be Cut
No one is really a "sure" thing when it comes to the 75-man roster. The coaching staff understands each of these players better than anybody else, which means they will decide who stays and who goes.
What we know based on scouting reports, previous NFL experience and roster depth, we can take an educated guess as to which guys don't have a great chance of sticking it out past the first stage of cuts.
These names are listed below
Ryan Lee, OG
As a team always in search for warm bodies on the offensive line, the Browns brought offensive guard Ryan Lee into camp to see what he had to offer.
Going by the press release the team scribed about the signing, Lee spent time on the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers practice squads two seasons ago and wound up making it to the 75-man roster with the St. Louis Rams in 2013.
There's no real reason to keep him around very long unless he turns some heads. The Browns already have a pretty solid group of offensive linemen, making Lee a favorite to be an early camp casualty.
Abasi Salimu, OL
After going undrafted, Abasi Salimu was signed by the Rams earlier this year. They terminated their agreement with the rookie, leading the way for the Browns to scoop him up off waivers.
Salimu spent his collegiate career with the San Jose State Aztecs before transferring to Nicholls State. Originally recruited as a defensive end, per Rivals.com, he transitioned over to the offensive side of the ball.
It's challenging to project Salimu making it past this first stage of cuts because of the talent already on the offensive line and the fact that he's so inexperienced.
Emmanuel Ogbuehi, TE
Besides Jordan Cameron, the Browns really don't have another dynamic tight end on the roster and Emmanuel Ogbuehi definitely won't fill that void.
Right now the team has mainly used a combination of Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge during camp.
Ogbuehi spent last summer in training camp with the Washington Redskins, which means he has some experience working with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. He then bounced to the Miami Dolphins, where he spent a good portion of the year on their practice squad.
The 23-year-old has yet to find a home in the NFL, and even though the Cleveland tight end position isn't that promising outside of Cameron, don't expect Ogbuehi to make it out of the first three weeks of the preseason.
Royce Adams, DB
The most recent addition to the Browns roster is Royce Adams, who is an interesting option, especially since he's still listed as a defensive back. As the press release stated, "In college, Adams spent his first three seasons as a cornerback before converting to wide receiver for his senior year." His transition back over to defense took place after he finished up college.
This is Adams' second stint with the Browns. He was brought in earlier this offseason before the team released him on July 23.
Defensive back is another position for Cleveland that runs deep as a well. Adams chances of making it onto the 75-man roster seem farfetched at this juncture.
Probably Will Be Cut
On this slide, we'll look at a group of players who are more than likely going to be sent packing. Blame it on camp battles or positional depth. The point is, not everyone is able to make this team even if we'd like them to.
As the summer dwindles down, let's now look at the group of players who will most likely be shown the door.
Marlon Moore, WR
Marlon Moore's name adds to the pile of experienced wide receivers the Browns are looking to test out. Moore has been around the league for four seasons, spending time with the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers.
He has experience, but as far as his on-field production goes, he's still pretty raw. In his four seasons at wide receiver, he's started only two games and caught 19 passes.
There's always a chance he makes it past this first round of cuts based on the team's need to build continuity at the position. But watching Moore over the years, it's hard to picture him being a factor this year on Cleveland's offense, especially when you consider all of the young talent in camp.
Jonathan Krause, WR
Out of all the positions at camp this summer, the biggest competition seems to be at wide receiver. Jonathan Krause is one name who has the odds stacked against him right now. He hasn't done himself any favors so far.
Tim A. Miller of Dawgs by Nature watched Krause during camp and was left rather unimpressed. "Looked like a practice squad candidate but not a legitimate contender for a roster spot. One major positive: had no trouble with drops or contested catches. Unfortunately, he had tremendous difficulty getting open," Miller wrote.
Holding on to wide receivers past the 75-man roster only works when those players show enough potential to warrant a second look. So far, Krause hasn't proven that he deserves that chance.
Cam Henderson, DL
Cam Henderson is spending his second consecutive summer trying to make an NFL roster. Last year he landed in camp with the Atlanta Falcons and missed out on that opportunity.
As weird as it sounds, Henderson is actually a holdover from the previous regime in Cleveland. The Browns added him to their practice squad in December of 2013.
He'll be looking to join a defense that is undergoing another overhaul with Coach Pettine running the show. A former product from the University of Central Florida, he started four games during the 2012 season at defensive end and appeared in 13 games total.
A big concern with Henderson is that he is competing on a defense with a ton of talent. The best shot he has to stick around will be as a part of the practice squad once again.
There's simply too much talent and not enough roster spots to go around.
K'Waun Williams, DB
The logjam of cornerbacks makes undrafted rookie K'Waun Williams a tough sell right now.
We'll use the phrase again later on, but a lot of these cuts comes down to a numbers game. It's hard to carve out places on the active roster for players who lack experience compared to veterans.
Williams is a prime example of that.
Reid Fragel, OL
Reid Fragel is competing strictly to become a backup in camp. With the team sending Chris Faulk packing, the competition has heated up between Martin Wallace and Fragel.
The 6'8" lineman was a seventh-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals last season, and he received some high praise on draft day, including from NFL.com. He also drew comparisons to Alex Boone of the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks' Eric Winston, per Pro Football Talk.
Based on some training camp notes that have surfaced, it seems like despite that praise, Wallace was the guy who has been getting first-team reps when All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas wasn't.
But an injury on Aug. 4 has dealt the biggest blow to Fragel's chances of making it to the 75-man roster. While there are no details right now on the extent of it, Fred Greetham of Fox Sports Ohio noted that Fragel was removed from the field on a cart.
Unfortunately, if this injury turns out to be serious, it could severely jeopardize his chances of making the club.
A Few Surprise Cuts That Could Happen
Surprise cuts are guys with more established names that could wind up on the chopping block because of their performance—or lack thereof—and competition at their respective positions.
Connor Shaw, QB
Connor Shaw is looking to show the coaching staff that he belongs on this team. So far, it hasn't been smooth sailing. According to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer, Shaw was intercepted twice during the Browns' first scrimmage.
It's simple: Shaw has to be better if he wants to stick on this roster. The rest of training camp and the first preseason games will put an even bigger spotlight on the former South Carolina Gamecock.
If he doesn't rise to the occasion and look better in live games than he has in practice, the Browns could cut ties with him on Aug. 26.
Chris Ogbonnaya, RB
Parting ways with Chris Ogbonnaya is strictly a numbers game at this point. The Browns running back is going up against a stout group of tailbacks in camp.
This isn't the same rushing attack we saw last season. Ben Tate and rookie Terrance West should be the guys carrying the bulk of the load while Edwin Baker, Dion Lewis and Isaiah Crowell fight it out for a roster spot.
Ogbonnaya's ability to play fullback and catch passes out of the backfield could determine his fate. However, the fact that he isn't nearly as explosive or talented a runner as the rest of the group could really hurt his chances of making this team.
Edwin Baker, RB
Another halfback who may get shown the door early is Edwin Baker. Baker's case looks similar to the one I just laid out for Ogbonnaya.
There are just too many running backs to go around, and the Browns have to decide who fits best. Lewis, Tate, Crowell and West all seem to be better suited for Coach Shanahan's scheme due to their lateral quickness and burst which makes Baker's life difficult.
His saving grace though could be how he's looked so far. Dating back to spring practices, Baker appears to be performing better than Ogbonnaya based on what Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer observed.
"Baker has had some very good moments in the spring practices. It seems he is ahead of veteran Chris Ogbonnaya," said Pluto.
The Final Prediction
- Ryan Lee, OG
- Abasi Salimu, OL
- Emmanuel Ogbuehi, TE
- Royce Adams, DB
- Marlon Moore, WR
- Jonathan Krause, WR
- Cam Henderson, DL
- Reid Fragel, OL
- K'Waun Williams, DB
- Connor Shaw, QB
- Chris Ogbonnaya, RB
- Edwin Baker, RB
Here it is, in all of its Dawg Pound-like glory. A final recap of all the guys who may not make it onto the Browns 75-man roster—currently the roster consists of 87 names.
Do you feel differently about certain names on this list? Drop a comment below and share your thoughts on some of the players you believe won't last into early September.