Every week, the Browns release an unofficial team depth chart that shows about what’s going on in practices throughout the week. Performances in preseason games and practices along with injuries and suspensions shuffle guys around seemingly every week and it can give clues as to who the front office and coaching staff plan on keeping either on the active roster or the practice squad heading into the regular season.
At 1uarterback, the depth chart doesn’t matter all that much behind Baker Mayfield, but Freddie Kitchens wants to keep three on the roster. Drew Stanton is still the experienced number two for now, but if Garrett Gilbert and David Blough continue strong showings, Stanton’s spot may be in jeopardy.
The running back position was once an extremely crowded room on paper with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and Duke Johnson. Now that Duke has been traded to the Texans combined with Kareem Hunt having to serve an 8-game suspension, the backfield is comprised of Nick Chubb, Dontrell Hilliard, and a bunch of unproven, undrafted camp guys. Teams will usually roster 3-4 backs, so if none of the camp guys break out, then look for John Dorsey to be scavenging the waiver wire.
With the recent four-game suspension of troubled, young receiver Antonio Callaway, the Browns now have an extra roster spot at the receiver position. I think the locks to make the roster with Callaway on the shelf remain superstars Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry followed by Rashard Higgins and Derek Willies. Jaelen Strong has been making a lot of big plays as Odell’s backup, so it seems likely that he’ll make the team with the possibility of having a Breshad Perriman-esque career revitalization.
There’s a good chance they’ll keep one more player mostly for special teams purposes. DJ Montgomery looked fantastic in limited time, Ishmael Hyman is listed as the third-stringer and looked good despite the fumble, and if Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi makes another big play in the return game, he might have an outside chance.
The tight end and offensive line groups are basically set at this point. David Njoku and Demetrius Harris are locks. At the moment, Seth DeValve is injured opening the door for the listed third-stringer, Pharaoh Brown, to possibly steal a roster spot assuming they only keep three tight ends. As for the offensive line, the group is likely about already set if they keep the standard of eight players. The four definite starters are Greg Robinson, Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter, and Cam Hubbard. The right guard spot is still up in the air, but the last four spots are probably going to end up being Eric Kush, Austin Corbett, Kendall Lamm, and one of either Bryan Witzmann or Drew Forbes. If I had to make the decision for that last spot right now, I’d cut Witzmann, keep Forbes, and send Willie Wright to the practice squad who is newly listed on the second team.
The defensive side of the ball could be a tad more unpredictable, and the defensive line’s depth seems to always have plenty of moving pieces. There’s likely going to be a waiver wire addition here, but I am going to try and predict what will happen without that being a factor. The starters are clearly elite with Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi, Sheldon Richardson, and Olivier Vernon. Genard Avery will also see plenty of snaps as an end in pass-rush situations, so he will help out this group a lot. I think veterans Chris Smith and Anthony Zettel will both make the roster, although, Smith is a cut candidate with his current contract. Chad Thomas flashed in week one, so he’ll likely make the team as long as that continues and Wyatt Ray has an outside shot.
As for depth at defensive tackle, Devaroe Lawrence looked fantastic in week one, but he needs to keep proving he overtake Carl Davis as a backup, and Trevon Coley will likely make the roster due to a rare combination of his cheap contract, starting experience, and youth. The Browns are desperate for depth on the interior, so it’s a position to watch throughout the preseason.
The linebacker room is pretty straight forward, to be honest. Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert should prove to be one of the better duos in the NFL. The two rookies, Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson, will push for playtime, and they will definitely make the roster. Mack Wilson might even challenge for a starting spot with how incredible he is in coverage, but he has to improve the rest of his game first. Genard Avery is listed as the starting SAM, but he’ll be used as both a defensive lineman and a linebacker, which could open up some snaps for another player at the position. The two veterans, Adarius Taylor and Ray-Ray Armstrong, might have a hard time making the roster, especially now that Armstrong has been demoted to the third-string because of the two rookie standouts. Furthermore, the Browns could even make a waiver addition here, so their futures with the team could come to an end sooner rather than later if they don’t prove their worth.
The cornerbacks are a pretty interesting group with a fair amount of roster turnover. It’s vital to have plenty of capable cornerbacks on the roster because it’s an important position that is at times undervalued. It’s one of the more crucial positions to have depth at, so it’s great to see a team have several good corners. The Browns listed starters are the same as how they opened the season last year with Denzel Ward and Terrance Mitchell. Rookie Greedy Williams will have to really earn a starting job to take it away from Mitchell who was extremely productive when healthy last season. TJ Carrie will likely start out as the nickel making him another lock for a spot. Beyond that, there’s room for one or two players to break out and earn a spot. Tavierre Thomas who was terrific on special teams last season right now is probably the most likely to make the team, the energetic Lenzy Pipkins, 7th round pick Donnie Lewis Jr, and veteran Phillip Gaines probably have the best chances as it stands at the moment.
The safety position is perhaps the biggest unknown on Cleveland’s roster. Damarious Randall will obviously be the starting free safety, but we don’t know much else. As of right now, veteran Morgan Burnett is listed as the other starter, so he’ll likely make the final cut. Eric Murray and Jermaine Whitehead are listed as the backups, and with Murray having the ability to play corner and Whitehead drawing rave reviews, makes it seem like the Browns will attempt to keep them. After that, there’s maybe one more roster spot left, which is almost a lock to go to Sheldrick Redwine given that he was the 4th round pick. Justin Burris is listed as a safety next to Redwine with the third team, which is interesting because he’s typically a corner, so maybe the positional versatility could give him a boost. As for the two 4th team players, I wouldn’t mind seeing both of them make the practice squad as I think both of them have plenty of raw potential, which makes it well worth keeping them around. All in all, this position is pretty interesting, and the Browns are desperate for a breakout to insert next to Randall. Who knows, maybe it will even be former Chief, Eric Berry.