5 Cleveland Browns players on the roster bubble heading into OTAs
3. EDGE Porter Gustin
Injuries to Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon, and Adrian Clayborn forced Gustin into a much larger role than expected. He started three games and logged at least 20 snaps in seven, including both playoff games.
As a fourth or fifth EDGE, it’s not easy to find a better player than Gustin. He isn’t of starter quality, but he can provide at least some peace of mind as depth. He can play the run decently well and can rush the passer, as he showed in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals, planting Joe Burrow along with Garrett.
Gustin was a very good athlete who was incredibly productive at USC. The problem was that he suffered injury after injury, which likely sapped some of his explosiveness and agility. He hasn’t had any injury issues as a pro, which is good, but he will have some stiff competition to make the team.
There is theoretically room for 10 defensive linemen on the roster, but the Browns may keep only eight or nine. Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, and Takk McKinley are the top three edge rushers, and Gustin will be competing with Porter Gustin and Malik McDowell for the last one or two spots.
The nuance in this battle is that of versatility. McDowell was a defensive tackle in college with power EDGE versatility, which he presumably retains. He is also arguably the second-most-talented player on the entire team, but has not played football in five years.
Weaver was extremely productive at Boise State and boasts elite agility; he seems to have put on some weight, so perhaps will be able to play inside as well. Gustin cannot, so he may be the 10th player on a nine-man line.