The secret is out about the Cleveland Browns’ plans to build their roster. Over the last two seasons, they have selected 26 players in the NFL Draft.
Last season, the Browns had 16 players start out the season on the roster that were rookies. This season, the Browns can potentially have 10 or more rookies on the roster, depending on the roster cuts.
“We’re trying to build a group that is going to be together for a long time. For us, that is the really great thing about the last draft class, this draft class and the next one,” Sashi Brown said in an interview after the 2017 NFL Draft.
Hue Jackson recently named rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer as the starter going into the season. Rookies Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers will also be starting on defense. The third 1st round selection, David Njoku, will be starting by the end of the season.
There are a number of members of the 2016 NFL Draft Class that will start and/or contribute significantly this season. 2016 1st round pick Corey Coleman will start at wide receiver. Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib will split time at defensive end opposite of Myles Garrett. With injuries at middle linebacker and safety, 2016 4th round picks Derrick Kindred and Joe Schobert will start.
Ricardo Lewis, Rashard Higgins and Seth DeValve should also contribute on offense this season.
How will 2017 draft picks affect roster cuts?
It is very clear that Sashi Brown and the rest of the Browns’ front office want this team to build through the draft. And to me, they will prefer their draft picks over players that they inherited.
Today, the Browns released Cam Johnson and Ed Reynolds. Reynolds was a practice squad player to start last season and eventually made it to the roster in October last year. Cam Johnson was signed on with the old regime. He had 32 tackles and three sacks last season.
Also, it appears that both Joe Haden and Cam Erving are on the trading block with cut day approaching.
Haden has had his injury problems over the last couple of seasons playing in just a total of 18 games. The former All-Pro corner has lost a step or two because of the injuries. Yesterday, the voice of the Browns Jim Donovan said in an interview that he believes Haden is “the third best corner on the roster.”
Erving and Haden being on the trade block is a direct result of the new regime bringing in so much talent over the last couple of seasons. It will likely affect their decisions on the final 53-man roster.
Ed Reynolds being cut today opens the door for Kai Nacua to make the roster. With Haden being on the block, maybe one of the undrafted rookie corners Channing Stribling, Najee Murray and Alvin Hill can make the final roster.
While the kicking battle has been even on paper, Zane Gonzalez has a leg up (nice pun I know) on Cody Parkey because the Browns invested a draft pick on him.
There could be some surprises this Saturday when it comes to roster cuts because of the investment in draft picks. Caleb Brantley fell to the sixth round because of off-the-field issues. He was expected to be a third or fourth round pick. Xavier Cooper and Jamie Meder, both of the previous regime, could be cut to keep Brantley and Larry Ogunjobi. No one from the previous regime seems safe at all.
Roughly 1,200 players will be cut by the end of Saturday. I personally feel the Browns will cut around 40 players, three over what is necessary, to claim some that are cut.
Anthony’s Roster Cuts
Quarterbacks – Either Cody Kessler or Brock Osweiler. One will be traded.
Running Backs – Terrence Magee and Brandon Wilds
Full Backs – Nate Iese
Wide Receivers – Jordan Leslie, Josh Boyce, Rannell Hall, Richard Mullaney, Mario Alford, Rasheed Bailey
Tight Ends – JP Holtz and Taylor McNamara
Offensive Linemen – Austin Reiter, Anthony Fabiano and Zach Sterup
Defensive Linemen – Cam Johnson, Tyrone Holmes, Karter Schult, Xavier Cooper, Brandon Thompson, Jamie Meder
Linebackers – James Burgess, Deon King, Ladell Fleming
Defensive Backs – Darius Hillary, Marcus Burley, Trey Caldwell, Alvin Hill, Najee Murray, Ed Reynolds, Christian Bryant, JD Harmon, Calvin Pryor (when Ibraheim Campbell is healthy)
Kickers – Cody Parkey