Cleveland Browns: Shuffling the bottom of the deck
The Cleveland Browns are in uncharted territory this preseason. John Dorsey and company will just be shuffling the bottom of the deck this year during the cut-down to 53 players.
The Cleveland Browns and their fans are currently in uncharted territory. Never mind the fact that the Browns are heading into the season with their franchise quarterback already in place. That by itself gives this season a completely different outlook.
But a quarterback alone is not enough to obtain the ultimate prize. As good as Baker Mayfield is projecting to be; he still needs to be surrounded by as much talent as possible. Mayfield would be the first to tell you that it takes an entire team to get where they are trying to go.
An entire team is exactly what John Dorsey and company are currently constructing. In years past in Cleveland, the league cut-down day to 53 had a completely different feel. Until Dorsey became the GM, the Browns have played the role of a scavenger, looking for roster casualties for players to bring in to contribute; if not, possibly start.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
This year, the Browns will be a team that other franchises are paying attention to, so they can see if they can possibly scavenge players that can contribute to their teams. That is a testament to the quality of depth Dorsey has been able to add over the past two seasons.
Instead of spending the final week of preseason games fleshing out the starting unit, the Browns are only shuffling the bottom of the deck. With the starters and the second-string clearly defined, only the very bottom of the roster needs to be determined. The hardest decisions will come in a few different positional groups; mainly on defense.
At defensive end, there will be four players that are competing for two or possibly three spots. Anthony Zettel, Chad Thomas, Chris Smith, and Wyatt Ray head into the final preseason game with their futures on the Browns hanging in the balance. Thomas may get a pass because he was a third-round pick in 2018, but nothing is guaranteed.
Defensive tackle has a similar positional battle on going with four players competing for two spots. Right now Devaroe Lawrence and Trevon Coley are the leaders in the clubhouse. That leaves Carl Davis and Daniel Eukuale on the outside looking in. Either Davis or Eukuale will get a chance to compete elsewhere if they fail to land a spot in the final week.
The logjam at linebacker appears to be even bigger. Two rookies that both have draft picks invested in them; Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki are locks to make the team. Adarius Taylor, Willie Harvey, and Ray-Ray Armstrong all appear to be competing for one spot in this linebacker corps. What those three can contribute to special teams will go a long way in determining who gets to remain with this team.
On offense, the wide receiver picture has gained some clarity in the recent days with D.J. Montgomery being placed on IR and Jaelen Strong being given his release. When you add the suspension of Antonio Callaway; it adds an extra spot on the active roster for the first several weeks of the season. Derrick Willies appears to be the final lock in the wide receiver room because of what he brings to special teams.
What is unknown is how many wide receivers the Browns plan to go into the season with. At most, there are two spots up for grabs and five receivers competing for them. Damion Ratley, Braxton Miller, Ishmael Hyman, Dorian Baker, and Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi are all still in it going into the final preseason game. If the Browns decide to go with five receivers, Hyman, Baker, Sheehy-Guiseppi would all but be on the outside looking in.
It’s a numbers game, and there will surely be surprises. But the bottom line is; there will be good players cut from this year’s Browns team. These players, in years past, would have not just made the team but would have been expected to contribute.
Due to having quality starters and solid depth; the players that don’t make this Browns’ team will have a chance to latch on elsewhere. Usually, it would be the other way around. A welcome change.
Winning a Super Bowl is the final objective for this Cleveland Browns squad; again, something else this franchise and their fans haven’t been able to say with any seriousness for 30 years. This is uncharted territory indeed.