Cleveland Browns 53-man roster tracker/analysis: First look at Cleveland's initial roster

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Browns roster had to be trimmed down from its training camp limit of 90 to the regular season max of 53. That won't be the 53 players who likely will comprise the roster when they open the season on Sept. 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but it'll be somewhat close.

Twice before, attempts have been made at guessing what that 53-man roster would look like by the deadline. There was one made coming out of the offseason program, and another going into the final week of the preseason.

There's no more projections. This is the roster at it stands by the end of business Tuesday.

By 2:30 p.m., the Browns had made all of their decisions to get to the mandated 53. That, however, in no way will be the 53 that makes it to the opener.

Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry speaks with the media during an NFL football news conference at the team's practice facility in Berea, Ohio, Friday, April 21, 2023. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry speaks with the media during an NFL football news conference at the team's practice facility in Berea, Ohio, Friday, April 21, 2023. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Waivers await over the next 22 hours or so, with a noon Wednesday deadline for claims. There's also other moves, either trades or signings, potentially to be made.

With each position group is a quick analysis of how the group finally came together. Also, a look at maybe the toughest decisions in those groups.

Here, for the first time, is a look at the initial 53-man roster for the Cleveland Browns.

Total for roster, as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday: 53


Quarterbacks (2)

On the roster: Deshaun Watson, Dorian Thompson-Robinson

Didn't make it: Kellen Mond (waived), Joshua Dobbs (traded to Arizona Aug. 24)

The decision ultimately came down to whether or not they wanted to keep Kellen Mond. It always seemed like there was a strong wind blowing toward sticking with two quarterbacks on the active roster. It's always a possibly to have one (Mond?) on the practice squad.

Running backs (3)

On the roster: Nick Chubb, Jerome Ford, Pierre Strong Jr.

Didn't make it: Demetric Felton Jr. (waived), Hassan Hall (waived), John Kelly Jr. (contract terminated), Jordan Wilkins (contract terminated)

The trade Sunday for Strong answered the question about what back who wasn't on the roster at the start of training camp will be on it at the start of the regular season. With Ford, the question remains about the hamstring and whether or not it will require time on injured reserve. With Chubb, there are no questions. The questions for Felton, Kelly and Hall are about how many will come back on the practice squad.

Tight ends (3)

On the roster: David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Harrison Bryant

Didn't make it: Zaire Mitchell-Paden (reportedly waived), Miller Forristall (waived), Thomas Greaney (waived)

Njoku showed in the preseason that last season's breakthrough when he was healthy wasn't a fluke. Akins has just been reliable, which is what they expected when they signed Watson's former Houston Texans teammate. Bryant has been absent for some time with what is only being described as a "medical condition." The impact that had on his status seems to be that he'll at least be on the initial 53 with Mitchell-Paden reportedly being waived for now.

Wide receivers (6)

On the roster: Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cedric Tillman, David Bell, Marquise Goodwin

Reserve/non-football injury: Michael Woods II (Achilles)

Injured reserve: Jakeem Grant Sr. (ruptured patellar)

Didn't make it: Austin Watkins Jr. (waived), Jaelon Darden (waived), Mike Harley Jr. (waived), Anthony Schwartz (waived with injury designation), Jalen Wayne (waived)

Six or seven? How many receivers were the Browns going to keep. The question was always whether or not Watkins' spectacular preseason, in which he led the NFL with 257 receiving yards, was going to actually be enough to earn him a spot on the initial roster. Turns out, it wasn't. If he can make it through waivers, though, expect to see him back on the practice squad. Of course, with Goodwin a potential injured reserve candidate while he works his way back into football shape, that could open up a spot for him.

Interior offensive linemen (5)

On the roster: Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller, Ethan Pocic, Nick Harris, Luke Wypler

Didn't make it: Michael Dunn (contract terminated), Wes Martin (contract terminated), Drew Forbes (reserve/non-football illness), Colby Gossett (contract terminated)

The first four were never in doubt. Michael Dunn seemed like he was a lock to be the fifth until he had his contract terminated. However, it seems to be a move more procedural in nature to help fit someone else on the initial 53, and that Dunn could be back sooner rather than later. Wypler felt like the question mark until that move, plus decisions to terminate Wes Martin and Colby Gossett's contracts. He's worked at guard in the final three preseason games, trying to provide some positional versatility that he didn't have coming out of Ohio State as strictly a center.

Offensive tackles (4)

On the roster: Jedrick Wills Jr., Jack Conklin, James Hudson III, Dawand Jones

Didn't make it: Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (traded to New England), Derrick Kelly II (waived)

That was always going to be the list. Wheatley spent part of training camp pushing to be considered as the fifth tackle. However, he's now in New England after being traded for Strong.

Total on offense: 23, as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday


Defensive ends (5)

On the roster: Myles Garrett, Za'Darius Smith, Ogbo Okoronkwo, Isaiah McGuire, Alex Wright (injured)

Didn't make it: Jeremiah Martin (waived), Isaiah Thomas (waived), Sam Kamara (waived), Lonnie Phelps (waived), Chuck Wiley (waived)

There was always a question whether the Browns would actually keep both injured 2022 draft picks Wright and Thomas. Turns out, according to reports, they're not, electing to keep Wright but not Thomas. Wright, though, will likely head to injured reserve, which will open up another roster spot eventually. The lingering question remains if the four healthy ends is where they're going to stay or if another move awaits in the coming days.

Defensive tackles (4)

On the roster: Dalvin Tomlinson, Shelby Harris, Siaki Ika, Jordan Elliott

Didn't make it: Maurice Hurst II (contract terminated), Trysten Hill (contract terminated), Tommy Togiai (waived)

The question wasn't due to players needing a roster spot in order to go on IR. The question was due to the concerns that have surrounded this position group for the last year-plus. Hurst having his contract terminated is a bit of a surprise, but not too much of one.

Linebacker (7)

On the roster: Anthony Walker Jr., Sione Takitaki, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jordan Kunaszyk, Tony Fields II, Mohamoud Diabate, Matthew Adams

Injured reserve: Jacob Phillips (torn pectoral muscle)

Didn't make it: Charles Thomas III (waived), Cam Bright (waived)

Walker and Takitaki didn't play a snap in any of the four preseason games. That's irrelevant to the fact those two, seen as clear defensive leaders, are expected to play in the opener. Owusu-Koramoah played in the two preseason games the rest of the starters did, so he's worked his way back from last year's foot injury. Kunaszyk's knee injury in the preseason finale didn't change the fact he is on the initial 53, just whether he then gets place on IR. Fields had a strong preseason and is a more than capable special-teams contributor. Adams was hand-picked by special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone during free agency and, despite a calf injury in training camp, always felt like he was going to end up on the 53. Diabate, meanwhile, was the undrafted training camp rookie standout who did enough to make the roster.

Cornerback (6)

On the roster: Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, Martin Emerson Jr., A.J. Green III, Mike Ford Jr., Cameron Mitchell

Didn't make it: Lorenzo Burns (waived), Chris Westry (waived), Caleb Biggers (waived), Gavin Heslop (waived)

Injuries have created the most questions around this group. It's felt like from the start there would be six cornerbacks kept. The questions concern Ward's concussion, Mitchell's shoulder and whatever is ailing Ford, who was shaken up in last Thursday's practice during a collision. Those questions won't keep any from being left off the 53-man roster.

Safety (5)

On the roster: Juan Thornhill, Grant Delpit, Rodney McLeod, D'Anthony Bell, Ronnie Hickman Jr.

Didn't make it: Tanner McCalister (waived), Nate Meadors (waived)

Four or five? Turns out, it it'll be five. Bell is the holdover from last year, and always seemed like the lock to be the fourth safety. However, Hickman was a preseason star whose performance proved to be too much to ignore. Tanner McCalister, despite a solid preseason himself, still found his way to being the odd man out.

Total for defense: 27, as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday

Specialists (3)

On the roster: Dustin Hopkins (trade from Los Angeles Chargers, Aug. 28), Corey Bojorquez, Charley Hughlett

Didn't make it: Cade York (waived)

General manager Andrew Berry didn't wait for other teams to cut their kicker to hope he gets the one he wants off waivers. He went out on Monday and acquired the veteran Hopkins for a 2025 seventh-round pick. York, on whom the Browns pinned their hopes and a 2022 fourth-round pick, was told Monday his time in Cleveland was through. And so yet another season heads toward the starting gate and the Browns are hopeful this time their kicking savior has arrived.

Total for specialists: 3, as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday

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 initial 53-man roster tracker/analysis: Live updates