Browns final 53-man roster projection after the preseason

Now that the preseason is over, Cleveland Browns GM Andrew Berry and his staff have the unenviable task of trimming the team’s roster from 80 to 53.

Following Sunday night’s exhibition game in Atlanta, the Browns have about 40 hours before the NFL’s deadline at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, August 31st. There are some tough decisions to be made at several roster spots.

Here is my final projection. Note that this is just for the initial 53 on the roster after the first cutdown deadline. Expect changes, be it players who make the cut going on I.R. or waiver claims, on Wednesday that shake up at least three of the spots here.


Starter:Baker MayfieldBackup:Case Keenum No questions about Mayfield or Keenum, who is quietly one of the NFL’s best backups. The Browns could probably make a compelling case to keep Kyle Lauletta if they didn’t have so many difficult decisions on talented players at other spots. As it is, Lauletta is destined for the practice squad.

Running backs

Starter: Nick Chubb Reserves: Kareem Hunt, Demetric Felton, D’Ernest Johnson FB:Andy Janovich The final spot here, and on the entire 53-man roster in my projection, goes to Johnson. He’s proven capable of doing anything the offense asks him to do and the Browns aren’t going to get that from the outside. It’s certainly a tenuous spot. There is some school of thought that Janovich could be in peril. I don’t buy it, not until I see it happen. Johnny Stanton is a no-brainer for the practice squad.

Wide receivers

(AP Photo/David Dermer)

Starters: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry Reserves: Anthony Schwartz, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins Keeping just five here is tough, with KhaDarel Hodge being the last player cut. His value on special teams will need to be compensated for elsewhere, but Hodge isn’t irreplaceable on offense. There’s a fair chance he could be traded instead of cut.

Tight ends

Starters: Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant Reserve: David Njoku Quibble if you want about the ordination of the top three, but the Browns are keeping three. And only three. With apologies to Jordan Franks, who absolutely belongs on the practice squad.

Offensive line

(AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)

Starters (L-R): Jedrick Wills, Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter, Wyatt Teller, Jack Conklin Reserves: Chris Hubbard, Michael Dunn, Blake Hance, James Hudson, Nick Harris The first eight names here are pretty established. Hudson is not NFL-ready but he’s a fourth-round pick with upside and the Browns can’t let that go right now. Harris sticks as the backup center but that’s not a given. Greg Senat is a guy who should expect to get claimed by another team. Drew Forbes is quite the wild card. He didn’t make the cut here and his injury in Atlanta might make that uncertainty resolve itself in an unfortunate manner.

Defensive tackles

(AP Photo/David Dermer)

Starters: Malik Jackson, Andrew Billings Reserves: Jordan Elliott, Malik McDowell, Sheldon Day This position presents several dilemmas. Tommy Togiai is a fourth-round rookie but he’s nowhere close to as good right now as Sheldon Day. McDowell has earned his comeback stripes and deserves to stick, too. There are enough capable replacements around that I think they try to sneak Togiai to the practice squad. Some have speculated that Billings, who has not looked sharp after opting out of 2020, could be in trouble. I don’t think Billings gets cut but stranger things have happened, especially with the way Elliott has really come on in his second offseason. It creates a situation where the Browns could be choosing between Togiai and Billings. Now also factor in that Jadeveon Clowney can play tackle and has actually been a better pass rusher when lining up inside. Tough, tough decisions here…

Defensive end

(AP Photo/Kirk Irwin, File)

Starters: Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney Reserves: Takk McKinley, Porter Gustin Keeping just four instead of five DE is a nod to the bigger need for depth in the secondary. Cameron Malveaux is the more dynamic and versatile option ahead of Curtis Weaver in the quest to be the fifth if the Browns keep five.


(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Starters: Anthony Walker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Reserves: Sione Takitaki, Jacob Phillips, Tony Fields, Elijah Lee This one gets an asterisk with Phillips, who is injured and is expected to go on I.R. That opens the door for Mack Wilson to quickly return to the active 53-man roster after being cut, and I don’t believe he gets claimed elsewhere. Leaving off veteran Malcolm Smith is a tough decision. But I see this team erring on the side of younger potential. It would not surprise me if Smith sticks, however. Lee offers special teams value and Fields has all the makings of a major asset there too.


(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Starters: Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome, Troy Hill Reserves: A.J. Green, Greedy Williams, M.J. Stewart The ongoing injury worries with Ward and Williams necessitate the Browns keeping six CBs. M.J. Stewart sticks initially, but if the Browns make a waiver claim at any position on a player cut from another roster, it’s his replacement.


(AP Photo/David Dermer)

Starters: John Johnson, Ronnie Harrison Reserves: Grant Delpit, Richard LeCounte Keeping just four here is a tough decision, especially with Delpit’s injury status. LeCounte’s solid preseason helps ease the mind and definitively puts the rookie ahead of Sheldrick Redwine, who could stick around for much-needed insurance on the practice squad. Jovante Moffatt is a tough cut for his hitting and special teams potential.


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Kicker: Chase McLaughlin Punter: Jamie Gillan Long Snapper: Charley Hughlett The only question here is if the Browns dump McLaughlin for a player made available from another team.