We will continue to cover all things Cleveland Browns roster today. The Browns practice squad should take shape sometime later today, even though it will be in flux much of the year. The practice squad has been expanded to 10 players this year, allowing for 2 more than in years past. Let’s take a look at some of the players just cut from the Browns that are leading candidates to make the team’s practice squad. Connor Shaw leads the list.
While players from other teams will be on the practice squad, for the Browns early in the season bringing back players that have been with the team for most of Training Camp helps much more. They know the system. The team knows the players. The acclimation process is much quicker. If the Browns bring players to their PS from other teams expect it to be teams with ties to Mike Pettine’s and Kyle Shanahan’s systems so they can be up to speed quicker.
Connor Shaw - Shaw leads this list for a number of reasons. He is unlikely to be claimed by another team. He went undrafted before signing on with the Browns. For a team to drop a player that made their initial 53 man roster for an undrafted QB it would be a huge decision. Yet for the Browns Shaw could be seen as next year’s backup to Johnny Manziel. Both Brian Hoyer and Rex Grossman could be free agents at the end of this season meaning the Browns have to start planning for the future. Shaw’s style of play closely matches Manziel’s which would help as his primary backup in case Manziel gets hurt. Shaw showed some good qualities so far this pre-season.
Jacobbi McDaniel - One of this writer’s favorite was a victim of the numbers game. The Browns have a solid 2 deep depth chart for their 3-4 defense. On a 4-3 team or a less deep team McDaniel would of likely made the roster. That is also the reason it is possible that this undrafted rookie could get snatched up to someone’s 53 man. Unlike QB where teams have 2 maybe 3 players, defensive linemen are always in short order. The Browns will be lucky if they can keep Jacobbi on their PS. Injuries on the defensive line are frequent, having McDaniel in the bullpen would be fantastic.
Donald Hawkins - Hawkins is reportedly known to be going to the PS according to reports. The Browns claimed him on waivers and look to continue to develop him. The way the team collected linemen this off-season expect quite a few on this 10 man roster.
Garrett Gilkey - Gilkey was a surprise cut by the Browns. At the start of Training camp he seemed to have the RG spot to himself. He lost it to John Greco then lost his roster spot. Gilkey could easily be claimed by another team but if not the Browns could use this time as a motivator to Gilkey. What led to him being cut is still unsure.
Willie Snead - Snead was considered a big get after the draft when the Browns signed him as a undrafted free agent. He and Isaiah Crowell were seen as big pieces to the future of the Browns offense. It never clicked for Snead but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a chance. Snead has a lot of development to do but has the raw talent to be a big time player down the road for the Browns..
A quick look back at some history on practice squads. Last year the Browns PS started with 7 men:
3 of those players were in camp with the Browns. Eubanks transitioned to LB with the team.
The Buffalo Bills filled their entire 8 man roster when Mike Pettine was their defensive coordinator:
QB – Thaddeus Lewis
RB – Ron Wingo
WR – Tommy Steeter
OT – Edawn Coughman
C – Mark Asper
DL – Izaan Cross
LB – Jamie Blatnick
CB – Johnny Adams
So a little bit different skew of players than the Browns CB & WR only group.
Finally the Washington Redskins under the Shanahans had 8 members as well:
RB – Jawan Jamison
OLs – Xavier Nixon and Tevita Stevens
DL – Dominique Hamilton
LB – William Compton
CB – Chase Minnifield
So not a lot of information available to how their recent history will impact the team’s decision on the Practice Squad. Most likely they will look for the best talent especially at positions of need: receiver and offensive line. One thing to note from all the names we listed, the reason we listed them, is that, besides Minnifield and a few of the Browns players, those are unknown names. If any of them are going to have an impact on the league it will likely be a few years down the road and for another team.
That doesn’t mean the Practice Squad isn’t important. But important and impactful are far different deals. The impact of the PS is felt during practice and generally a few years down the road.
Who do you think is a prime practice squad candidate?