Cleveland Browns roster projections 2024: Resetting 53-man depth chart after minicamp

BEREA — The Cleveland Browns have scattered to various spots across the country. Some, maybe, have even ventured outside of the nation's borders for a international vacation.

The players have roughly six weeks to enjoy some time off before they return in late July for the start of training camp. Currently, there are 91 players on the roster, with offensive tackle Roy Mbaeteka a roster exemption as part of the NFL's international development program that allows the Browns to go over the normal 90-man limit.

There will be a time, though, when the Browns have to get their roster to a firm 53, no exceptions. That won't happen until late August, but that doesn't mean one can't try to guess now what that 53 will look like.

The first of these projections came out shortly after the NFL draft and rookie minicamp. Now, with the offseason program complete, let's take another swing at projecting the Browns' 53-man roster.

Browns general manager Andrew Berry, right, shares a laugh with cornerback Justin Hardee Sr. after minicamp practice Thursday in Berea.
Browns general manager Andrew Berry, right, shares a laugh with cornerback Justin Hardee Sr. after minicamp practice Thursday in Berea.

Quarterbacks (3)

Deshaun Watson, Jameis Winston, Dorian Thompson-Robinson

The questions about Watson's surgically repaired shoulder are slowly getting answered after he threw on an every-other-day schedule over the last month and a half of the offseason program. Thompson-Robinson, who'd been limited for most of the offseason while recovering from a hip injury, also started to throw by the time minicamp rolled around. The bet remains that Tyler Huntley becomes a Joshua Dobbs-like trade chip for late in August and the Browns keep Thompson-Robinson to try to continue to develop him.

Wide receivers (5)

Amari Cooper, Jerry Jeudy, Elijah Moore, Cedric Tillman, James Proche II

Cooper's absence from minicamp while he seeks a new contract maybe throws a wrinkle into things. However, barring an unforeseen occurrence, no one expects him not to be on the initial 53. The same holds true for Jeudy, Moore and Tillman. After that, it could be any number of options, both in terms of who stays and how many. One thing to pay attention to will be special teams, which is why, for now, Proche is the fifth receiver. By the start of training camp, it could be a completely different wide receiver there.

Running backs (5)

Nick Chubb, Jerome Ford, Nyheim Hines, D'Onta Foreman, Pierre Strong Jr.

Chubb's status at the end of training camp will dictate what this looks like, and maybe other spots on the roster as well. The assumption remains that he potentially could start on the injured reserve depending on how far along he is in his recovery from a knee injury. Hines will be another one to monitor as he also returns from a knee injury, although he's not quite as big a question as Chubb. Strong has made a strong special-teams presence with the Browns, which will make him a key guy to keep.

Tight ends (3)

David Njoku, Jordan Akins, Giovanni Ricci

Browns tight end David Njoku runs with the ball after a first-quarter catch against the New York Jets on Dec. 28, 2023, in Cleveland.
Browns tight end David Njoku runs with the ball after a first-quarter catch against the New York Jets on Dec. 28, 2023, in Cleveland.

Ricci's primary job seems to project to be as the next fullback/H-back, but he's listed here. Njoku and Akins are the only sure things at the position.

Offensive linemen (10)

Center: Ethan Pocic, Luke Wypler

Guards: Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller, Michael Dunn, Zak Zinter

Tackles: Jedrick Wills Jr., Jack Conklin, Dawand Jones, James Hudson III

Just continue to put a big asterisk over this entire group here, because the various recovery processes for the big three tackles — Wills, Conklin and Jones — makes everything else a guess. If all three are able to go at the end of August, it makes for some interesting decisions, including individuals such as Hakeem Adeniji. Wypler seems to have found some special-teams traction, at least in the offseason, so he replaces the oft-injured veteran Brian Allen, who was the choice behind Pocic on the post-rookie minicamp version of this.

Defensive linemen (9)

End: Myles Garrett, Za'Darius Smith, Ogbo Okoronkwo, Alex Wright

Tackle: Dalvin Tomlinson, Maurice Hurst II, Michael Hall Jr., Shelby Harris, Quentin Jefferson

Two 2023 draft picks, Siaki Ika and Isaiah McGuire, were left on the cutting-room floor in the May version of this projection. At least one not making this projection may have been a result of the trickle-down effect of other positions and the injury uncertainty. Until further notice, that remains the case. Ika appears to have put on some muscle while looking a little more trim, which could help him make a push.

Linebackers (5)

Outside: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Mohamoud Diabate

Inside: Jordan Hicks, Tony Fields II, Nathaniel Watson

Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (6) celebrates a third-down stop during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 1, 2023, in Cleveland.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (6) celebrates a third-down stop during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 1, 2023, in Cleveland.

A two-linebacker look continues to be something to watch for a lot this season for Jim Schwartz's defense. So, too, will be the impact the new kickoff rule has one this position, along with others, in terms of keeping players on the 53-man will be a fascinating subplot going right up to the deadline.

Cornerbacks (5)

Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, Martin Emerson Jr., Cameron Mitchell, Justin Hardee

The top four feel secure, although Mitchell was not an active participant in minicamp due to an injury. Hardee is listed here because "special teams aces" wasn't a section on this projection. After that, it could be a Myles Harden or a Kahlef Hailassie, with special teams, again, playing a big role in that decision.

Safeties (5)

Grant Delpit, Juan Thornhill, Rodney McLeod, D'Anthony Bell, Tony Brown

The top four, much like at cornerback, feels right assuming good health. Brown was signed as a special teams performer, which a background connecting him to special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone. Where's Ronnie Hickman? He may have been someone who got edged out because of other position groups and trying to guess about injury situations.

Special teams (3)

Punter: Corey Bojorquez

Kicker: Dustin Hopkins

Long snapper: Charley Hughlett

Cade York was signed in late March, and worked alongside the now-waived Lucas Havrisik during OTAs. Hopkins didn't attend OTAs, but was present for minicamp. The question remains if York is more to help keep Hopkins' leg fresh in camp, or if there's a legitimate competition potential here.

Chris Easterling can be reached at ceasterling@thebeaconjournal.com. Read more about the Browns at www.beaconjournal.com/sports/browns. Follow him on X at @ceasterlingABJ

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Browns 53-man roster projection: Depth chart guess after minicamp

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