Cleveland Browns 53-man roster projection: Tough calls at receiver, D-line, linebacker

BEREA — The Browns are off on a month-plus-long vacation. They'll get back together in July and head to West Virginia and The Greenbrier for the first practice of training camp on July 22.

There won't be any in-camp cutdown dates to adhere to this year, thanks to a rule change at the owners meetings in Phoenix in late March. However, on Aug. 29 the Browns will have to trim their 90-man roster down to the 53-man one they'll take into the last day of August.

No one expects the 53-man roster the Browns announce on Aug. 29 to be the one they'll have for the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10. There will be additions and subtractions and tweaks as players pop up on the waiver wire or in potential trade discussions.

All of that is still two-and-a-half months away. That's way too long to wait.

So what we have for you today is, based upon who's currently on the 90-man roster, a post-offseason projection of the Browns' final 53-man roster. Some of them are obvious, but there's still plenty of time for many to be altered for a variety of reasons.

Offense (25)

Quarterbacks (three)

Deshaun Watson, Josh Dobbs, Dorian Thompson-Robinson

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, left, talks with quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) during practice May 24 in Berea.

Deshaun Watson and Josh Dobbs are no-doubters. The question becomes, do they keep three or four?

If it's three, well, Dorian Thompson-Robinson was taken in the fifth round of April's draft with the idea of eventually developing into Watson's backup. That's bad news for Kellen Mond, unless they keep four.

(Narrator's voice: They won't.)

Running back (three)

Nick Chubb, Jerome Ford, Demetric Felton Jr.

Browns running back Nick Chubb takes part in drills at the team's practice facility June 7 in Berea.

This is a fascinating position group behind Nick Chubb, the obvious No. 1.

The second-year pro Jerome Ford seems destined to be No. 2 behind Chubb, along with his kickoff return abilities.

The No. 3 back may not even be on the roster at this time. Right now, Demetric Felton's getting the nod, if only because of the pass-catching threat he provides. If there is a fourth who makes it, it could be someone like undrafted rookie Hassan Hall.

Tight ends (three)

David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Harrison Bryant

Browns tight end David Njoku takes part in drills at the team's practice facility June 7 in Berea.

It feels like three is the number for tight ends. Judging by everything that was seen during minicamp, those three seem to be David Njoku, Harrison Bryant and Jordan Akins.

Wide receiver (six)

Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Elijah Moore, Cedric Tillman, Marquise Goodwin, Jakeem Grant Sr.

Browns wide receiver Elijah Moore (8) reaches for a pass in front of cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. , right, during a practice May 31 in Berea.

The question really is about how many receivers the Browns keep on the roster. If it's six, Jakeem Grant seems to be the last one in the boat because of his abilities in the return game, even over Jaelon Darden.

If the number is seven, then David Bell might be kept on as well. Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Elijah Moore, Cedric Tillman and Marquise Goodwin are virtual locks.

Center (three)

Ethan Pocic, Nick Harris, Luke Wypler

It's a question about if the Browns keep rookie Luke Wypler, especially coming off a season in which the center position felt snake-bit at times.

Ethan Pocic re-upped after being one of the AFC's best centers in 14 games. Nick Harris appears healthy, plus he's versatile enough to have played some guard previously. Wypler, meanwhile, is a player the Browns feel like they stole in the sixth round.

Guards (three)

Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller, Michael Dunn

Browns offensive lineman Joel Bitonio cools off during training camp on July 28, 2022, in Berea.

Michael Dunn's a critical piece of the Browns' heavy package as an extra tight end, so he stays. There's not really a discussion about Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, arguably the best guard tandem in the NFL. The question is if Drew Forbes sticks around because he can play either guard or tackle.

Otherwise, it seems like Harris could serve as the fourth guard in a bind.

Tackles (four)

Jedrick Wills Jr., Jack Conklin, James Hudson III, Dawand Jones

Browns left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., left, works on pass blocking techniques on Aug. 2, 2021 in Berea.

Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills are no-doubters, naturally. James Hudson has been the swing tackle behind the two previously, and figures to maintain that role. Dawand Jones, despite being a project, was drafted with the idea of potentially becoming that guy.

Defense (25)

Defensive ends (six)

Myles Garrett, Za'Darius Smith, Ogbo Okoronkwo, Alex Wright, Isaiah McGuire, Isaiah Thomas

Browns defensive end Za'Darius Smith warms up before drills June 6 in Berea.

Myles Garrett, Za'Darius Smith, Ogbo Okoronkwo, Alex Wright and Isaiah McGuire seem like no-doubters. The real question becomes if the Browns are going to keep six, which wouldn't be crazy to see.

If they do, Isaiah Thomas is that guy. If it's five, then it's tough to see Thomas getting a spot over the others.

Defensive tackle (four)

Dalvin Tomlinson, Jordan Elliott, Siaki Ika, Maurice Hurst Jr.

Browns' Siaki Ika (62) runs a drill during rookie minicamp in Berea on May 12.

It feels like there's still a tackle not currently on the 90-man roster who ends up on the 53-man roster, joining Dalvin Tomlinson, Jordan Elliott, Siaki Ika and Maurice Hurst Jr. It also feels like this could just as easily be five instead of four, depending on the number of ends kept.

The problem is the math it creates across the roster in terms of who else gets trimmed. Perrion Winfrey's spot, or potential lack thereof, is one to watch as his legal case for misdemeanor assault of a family member proceeds through Harris County, Texas.

Linebackers (five)

Anthony Walker Jr., Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Sione Takitaki, Matthew Adams, Jacob Phillips

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady looks to pass with pressure coming from Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.

The Browns, in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's scheme, are going to play two linebackers a lot of the time. So, why five here?

Well, Anthony Walker and Sione Takitaki have been taking it slowly through their recoveries from season-ending injuries last season, with both even a slight possibility to start the season on injured reserve depending on where their rehabs are by September. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is back on the field after a season-ending foot injury last year and looking active. Matthew Adams is here as much for special teams as anything. Jacob Phillips is in the final year of his rookie deal, and has basically spent the first three seasons hurt but has flown around during the offseason program open to the media.

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That leaves two definite returnees and one fringe newcomer — Jordan Kunaszyk, Tony Fields II and rookie Mohamoud Diabate — who feel like they could be there, if only for their special-teams contributions. But it's making the numbers work for the roster as a whole that makes it difficult at this point.

Safety (four)

Juan Thornhill, Grant Delpit, Rodney McLeod, D'Anthony Bell

Browns safety Grant Delpit takes part in drills at the team's practice facility June 7 in Berea.

Juan Thornhill and Grant Delpit are the starters. Rodney McLeod is the third safety, and a veteran, Super Bowl-winning backup. D'Anthony Bell has the feel of being the fourth safety, barring another acquisition.

Cornerbacks (six)

Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, Martin Emerson Jr., Cameron Mitchell, Mike Ford Jr., A.J. Green

Browns cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. (23) defends a pass intended for Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) on Jan. 8 in Pittsburgh.

Schwartz is going to play three cornerbacks or three safeties way more than he plays three linebackers. Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome and Martin Emerson seem like the three, with Newsome playing a more traditional slot cornerback spot than the linebacker-like role he had at times a year ago.

Cameron Mitchell, Mike Ford and even A.J. Green could factor heavily in special teams. In fact, that's why the Browns targeted Ford in free agency.

Specialists (three)

Cade York, Corey Bojorquez, Charley Hughlett

Browns kicker Cade York (3) celebrates with long snapper Charley Hughlett (47) after a first-half field goal against the Ravens on Dec. 17, 2022, in Cleveland.

This may be the easy spot to project barring any kind of training camp injury. Joseph Charlton was brought in to push Corey Bojorquez, but the bet is on the incumbent doing as he did a year ago and holding off Charlton.

Chris Easterling can be reached at Read more about the Browns at Follow him on Twitter at @ceasterlingABJ.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Browns 53-man roster projection: Who will make final cuts?