NFL rosters must be at 53 players by 6 o’clock Saturday, so the Browns have 22 moves to make. (One is a formality – putting receiver Josh Gordon on the NFL’s suspended list).
They likely won’t be finished tinkering.
With a new front office and coaching staff, the Browns are a prime candidate to continue turning over the bottom of the roster. They are expected to claim at least a couple of players off waivers, in addition to any last-minute trades.
Those specific changes are impossible to predict, so here’s my educated guess at the not-quite-final 53-man roster that will be announced Saturday.
Quarterbacks (3): Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer
Some of the best depth in the league.
Running backs (3): Trent Richardson, Chris Ogbonnaya, Brandon Jackson
Expect a change-of-pace back to be claimed off waivers. A second addition would put Jackson’s spot in jeopardy.
Wide receivers (5): Greg Little, Davone Bess, Travis Benjamin, David Nelson, Josh Cooper
Gordon doesn’t count against the 53 for the first two weeks because of his suspension. A pickup could easily bump Cooper off the roster.
Tight ends (4): Jordan Cameron, Gary Barnidge, Kellen Davis, Brad Smelley
If Smelley’s shoulder is OK after leaving the preseason finale Thursday night, he makes it as a combination tight end/fullback.
Offensive linemen (10): Joe Thomas, John Greco, Alex Mack, Oniel Cousins, Mitchell Schwartz, Shawn Lauvao, Jason Pinkston, Garrett Gilkey, Rashad Butler, Caylin Hauptmann
Lauvao and Pinkston won’t be ready for the first couple of weeks.
Defensive linemen (6): Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor, Desmond Bryant, Billy Winn, John Hughes, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen
The position group with the most depth is ripe for a trade. Winn should bring back a legitimate receiver or running back.
Linebackers (9): D’Qwell Jackson, Craig Robertson, Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo, Quentin Groves, Justin Cole, L.J. Fort, Tank Carder
James-Michael Johnson, a fourth-round pick in 2012, isn’t saved by his pick-six against the Bears.
Cornerbacks (5): Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, Chris Owens, Leon McFadden, Abdul Kanneh
Not nearly enough depth. Browns need one or two more.
Safeties (5): T.J. Ward, Tashaun Gipson, Johnson Bademosi, Josh Aubrey, Jamoris Slaughter
Another area where depth is a concern.
Specialists (3): Kicker Shayne Graham, punter Spencer Lanning, long snapper Christian Yount
Yount’s the only sure thing of the three.
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