Dorsey UDFA’s on the bubble
There are a total of 18 players brought to the team by John Dorsey at more or less the NFL minimum. Numbers six through 10 are probably going to play in the NFL this season, though not necessarily as part of Cleveland’s opening day roster.
The Browns may not have a roster spot for them even though they can play. The remainder, 11 through 18, are long shots to have a meaningful NFL career, at least in this fan’s opinion. However, as they say, anyone with a uniform number is a threat. It’s a cliché, but it is true.
6. Garrett Gilbert, Quarterback
Quarterback Garrett Gilbert will be on the team if the Browns carry three quarterbacks, but will they carry three quarterbacks? Gilbert was the best quarterback in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football. Though far from a rookie, he has never gotten a chance in the NFL, and did not cost the Browns much. He might be really good. I hate the thought of cutting any quarterback that Dorsey liked.
7. D.J. Montgomery, Wide Receiver
Wide receiver D.J. Montgomery is raw, but lit up his Pro Day, including clocking 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, and performed well in the exhibition games. He still wound up on the practice squad for reasons that were not very clear.
Depth at wide receiver was not a high priority last year. Montgomery must compete with the likes of Damion Ratley, Rashard Higgins, Taywan Taylor, and Donovan Peoples-Jones to win a job.
8. D’Ernest Johnson, Running Back
Former USFL star D’Ernest Johnson was the number four running back behind Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and Hilliard. Like Hilliard, he showed good ability to receive passes and run the ball in very limited opportunities, but also like Hilliard he wound up in coach Kitchens’ doghouse for missing a few assignments. Now that the Browns have added a fullback in Andy Janovich, it will make it very difficult for both Johnson and Hilliard to make the top 53.
9. Porter Gustin, EDGE
Defensive end Porter Gustin can play 3-4 linebacker, and with the Browns he was an edge rusher at defensive end. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) liked his work, grading him at 65.6. If he had more reps he would have been graded at about 63rd in the NFL, which would make him a borderline starter.
The Browns were pathetic last versus the run, but nevertheless he tied Olivier Vernon as their highest-ranked defensive end versus the run last year. Gustin had 13 tackles, one sack, and one fumble recovery over six games in 2019. With Adrian Clayborn joining the team, Gustin may have to beat out Chad Thomas for a roster spot.
10. Tavierre Thomas, Cornerback
Special teams ace Tavierre Thomas was a valued member of special teams kick and punt coverage units but saw very little action at defensive back. Meanwhile the Browns have acquired a number of fast defensive backs who might take his place on special teams. Thomas will find it difficult to make the team but could find a job in the NFL again in 2020.