Browns depth chart: Resetting the team after early free agents signings

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Jeff Risdon
·4 min read
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Free agency has brought several new players to Cleveland, as well as some Browns players returning to the Dawg Pound for another go-round.

Where do the new additions fit in on the team’s depth chart? And what holes remain after several players left in free agency?

Here’s an updated look at the Cleveland Browns position-by-position depth chart after the first two weeks of free agency.

Quarterback

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Starter: Baker Mayfield Reserves: Case Keenum, Kyle Lauletta The only question here is if the Browns keep Lauletta as the No. 3 or bring in a young challenger.

Running back

(AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

Starter: Nick Chubb Reserves: Kareem Hunt, D'Ernest Johnson, John Kelly No changes from the end of the season, with the top three joined by Kelly, who spent all of 2020 on the team's practice squad.

Fullback

Starter: Andy Janovich Reserve: Johnny Stanton No change here either. Stanton can also fill in at running back.

Tight end

USA TODAY Sports

Starter: Austin Hooper Reserves: Harrison Bryant, David Njoku, Stephen Carlson, Kyle Markway, Jordan Franks The top four here are about as secure as any position group on any team. Locking up Carlson shows an unusual commitment to a No. 4 tight end. Cleveland uses two tight ends in the lineup together frequently.

Wide receiver

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Starters: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry Reserves: Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Ja'Marcus Bradley, Derrick Willies, Ryan Switzer, Jojo Natson, Alexander Hollins The top four here are the only ones who will play if everyone is healthy. Switzer, Natson and Peoples-Jones are also potential return specialists. Bringing Higgins back as a free agent keeps the depth chart intact.

Offensive line

(AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)

Starters (L-R): Jedrick Wills, Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter, Wyatt Teller, Jack Conklin Reserves: Chris Hubbard, Alex Taylor, Michael Dunn, Greg Senat, Nick Harris, Blake Hance, Colby Gossett, Drew Forbes, Anthony Fabiano, Javon Patterson, Cordel Iwuagwu The starting five is one of the best in the league and returns intact. Getting Hubbard back as the top reserve is a great boon, provided he's recovered from his knee injury. Expect a lot of activity and battling for the depth behind that top six, enough that the team could be done adding already after bringing Senat back as a free agent and with Forbes returning from his opt-out season.

Defensive line

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Starters: Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, Malik Jackson, Takk McKinley Reserves: Andrew Billings, Jordan Elliott, Joe Jackson, Cameron Malveaux, George Obinna, Curtis Weaver This is a temporary status. Garrett and Richardson will start at DE and DT, respectively, but newcomers Jackson and McKinley are more likely to be No. 3 at those spots once the season starts. Billings could also start as he returns from his opt-out season.

Linebacker

(AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)

Starters: Anthony Walker, Jacob Phillips Reserves: Malcolm Smith, Sione Takitaki, Mack Wilson, Elijah Lee, Montrel Meander Walker stepping right into a starting role is about the only secure position on this depth chart. The No. 3 spot platooning between Smith (vs. the pass) and Takitaki (vs. the run) seems set but there are a lot of variables still at play here.

Cornerback

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Starters: Denzel Ward, Troy Hill Reserves: Greedy Williams, Robert Jackson, M.J. Stewart, A.J. Green, Brian Allen Williams needs to prove he's healthy before he can be presumed to start on the outside opposite Ward, but if he is then Hill kicks into the slot role and plays extensively. Losing Terrance Mitchell and Tavierre Thomas in free agency has opened opportunities for the depth, or for other newcomers.

Safety

Ronnie Harrison Browns
Ronnie Harrison Browns

(AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Starters: John Johnson, Ronnie Harrison, Grant Delpit Reserves: Jovante Moffatt, Sheldrick Redwine Presuming the Browns roll three safeties as the starting base defense adds Delpit in here. If not, he'll play in heavy nickel packages with Hill and Williams both starting at CB. The Browns could still add more here.

Specialists

Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports

Long snapper: Charley Hughlett Punter: Jamie Gillan Kicker: Cody Parkey, Matt McCrane The triumvirate of Hughlett, Gillan and Parkey return, with McCrane set to challenge Parkey at kicker. Expect camp competition for Gillan to come, too.

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