Sizing up the Roster – Offense:
Looking at the ninety-man roster, some players obviously have a better chance than others to make the final fifty-three-person team. A few are able to be included on the eight-member practice squad, while others will be looking for jobs. Let’s take a glance at some of the likely members of the 2013 Cleveland Browns on offense.
Quarterback: Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, and Brian Hoyer
Analysis: After signing two signal callers in the offseason to compete with the incumbent, it’s hard to imagine the roster including someone else at the quarterback position (barring injury, obviously). It would be a huge surprise if Weeden did not hold on to the starting job to open the season, but he still must perform well during training camp to secure it. Campbell has much more experience than Hoyer in the NFL, but if the hometown athlete can turn heads in July and August, he could possibly move up the depth chart.
Running Back: Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, Chris Ogbonnaya, Dion Lewis, Brandon Jackson, Owen Marecic, and Miguel Maysonet
Analysis: All seven of these athletes will not make the final roster – I envision four or five sticking around after final cuts. Should Maysonet excel in training camp, he could be a member of the team – however it would likely be with the practice squad (as he is eligible). After Richardson, none of the other spots are guaranteed. Marecic is the only true fullback on the roster, but will Turner and Chud value that position over another running back? Ogbonnaya is a noted pass-blocker and receiver, while Lewis can return kicks and punts. Will these traits help when competing with Hardesty and Jackson? We may find out in the coming weeks.
Wide Receiver: Josh Gordon, Greg Little, Travis Benjamin, Davone Bess, David Nelson, Josh Cooper, Jordan Norwood, Dominique Croom, Keenan Davis, Mike Edwards, Tori Gurley, and Cordell Robertson
Analysis: Many anticipate the roster including five wide receivers; this will be a highly scrutinized position in camp. Josh Gordon’s two-game suspension will allow another member to be with the team for that period, whether the front office keeps another wide out remains to be seen though. The first five listed above are the odds-on favorites to be on the final fifty-three-man roster, with Cooper and Norwood getting an outside shot to steal a spot. The remaining five athletes are either rookies or first-year members; they can be placed on the practice squad if the team feels they could contribute in the future.
Tight End: Jordan Cameron, Kellen Davis, Gary Barnidge, Brad Smelley, Dan Gronkowski, and Travis Tannahill
Analysis: The Browns will, more than likely, keep no more than three tight ends on their final roster. Cameron, Davis, and Barnidge are the likely candidates right now – Cameron being the only one with experience with the Browns (of the three). Smelley spent time last year on the practice squad, while Gronkowski has been signed and cut a few times already. Tannahill could possibly make this year’s practice squad, should he be deemed worthy.
Offensive Line: Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz, John Greco, Shawn Lauvao, Jason Pinkston, Oniel Cousins, Ryan Miller, Jarrod Shaw, Martin Wallace, Aaron Adams, Dominic Alford, Rashad Butler, Braxston Cave, Chris Faulk, Garrett Gilkey, and Caylin Hauptmann.
Analysis: It appears that six members will compete for five starting spots (with Greco, Lauvao, and Pinkston vying for the two guard positions). After that, the team will probably just keep two reserve spots – last season Cousins and Miller occupied these. Butler is an eight-year veteran, but will have to stand out in order to remain with the Browns. The other eight linemen have no more than two seasons of NFL experience – I foresee the team keeping a few on the practice squad (especially with the strong possibility of injuries). Some feel that Cave, Faulk, and Gilkey have a chance to stick around; despite either being late-round draft choices or undrafted free agents.
Final Conclusion: As the team continues to improve, final cut downs become increasingly difficult for the front office. That being said, there are several position groups that are solid on the depth chart – only a member or two could work their way up. The Browns had a small draft class, and many of the offensive rookies are either undrafted or were selected in later rounds. They will have a tough time making the final roster; perhaps they can practice with the team on a weekly basis however.