By Dan Williams @Dan_Wi11iams on July 31, 2014
Although training camp has just begun, it's never too early to attempt to predict who will make the final 53-man roster and what role they'll play for a given team. The Cleveland Browns have several players fighting for numerous spots along the roster, and for playing time. Here is an early training camp prediction of the Browns' final roster and the team's depth chart.
Brian Hoyer (S), Johnny Manziel, Connor Shaw
It isn't known whether the Browns plan on keeping two or three quarterbacks on the final roster, but Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel are set. Connor Shaw should beat out Tyler Thigpen or could be placed on the practice squad. Right now, signs are pointing to Hoyer being named the starter for Week one.
Ben Tate (S), Terrance West, Dion Lewis , Chris Ogbonnaya, FB-Marqueis Gray
Although four may seem like too many, the Browns' running backs are all different in their styles. Ben Tate is the most balanced, while West provides running between the tackles, Lewis will be used for speed purposes, and Ogbonnaya is a good receiving RB. Kyle Shanahan typically likes a traditional fullback, but Gray is too versatile to leave off the roster.
Miles Austin (S), Nate Burleson (S), Andrew Hawkins (S), Brandon Armstrong, Travis Benjamin, Charles Johnson*
The Browns will more than likely line up in three receiver sets with the addition of Hawkins in the slot. If Josh Gordon is suspended, expect Austin and Burleson to start. Charles Johnson will receive an '*' because of Gordon's status. Benjamin has come on as a receiving threat, but will be mainly used as a return man.
Jordan Cameron (S), Jim Dray, Gary Barnidge
Pro Bowler Cameron will be the top target for Hoyer this season if WR Josh Gordon is suspended. Cameron's ability to make big plays downfield will be a focus for opposing defenses and should create matchup problems for linebackers covering him. Dray will be used primarily as a blocking TE and Barnidge can do a little of both, but not at a high level like Cameron or Dray.
Joe Thomas (LT), Joel Bitonio (LG), Alex Mack (C), John Greco (RG), Mitchell Schwartz (RT), Paul McQuistan, Garrett Gilkey, Jeremiah Warren, Martin Wallace
Thomas and Mack will be starters as long as they're in a Browns' uniform. Schwartz has solidified his starting role, and Greco will more than likely line up on the right side due to Kyle Shanahan's run-first mentality. Bitonio will have to beat out McQuistan for the remaining slot.
Desmond Bryant (DE), Phil Taylor (NT), Ahtyba Rubin (DE), Billy Winn, John Hughes, Armonty Bryant, Ish'maaily Kitchen
In coach Mike Pettine's 3-4 defense, the Browns will need to have a strong rotation of defensive linemen who are capable of getting to the QB and/or holding off blockers so the linebackers can make plays. This unit has a strong trio of starters with excellent rotational options. Expect LB Jabaal Sheard to line up at DE often.
Jabaal Sheard (OLB), Karlos Dansby (ILB), Craig Robertson (ILB), Paul Kruger (OLB), Barkevious Mingo, Chris Kirksey, Tank Carder, Jamaal Westerman
On paper, the Browns' linebackers could be the strongest unit on the team. Outside backers include Kruger and hybrid DE/LB Sheard, who has led the team in sacks the past three seasons. Mingo will fill in when Sheard is along the line. Dansby fills a veteran leadership role left by D'Qwell Jackson.
Joe Haden (CB), Donte Whtiner (SS), Tashaun Gipson (FS), Justin Gilbert (CB), Buster Skrine, Pierre Desir, Leon McFadden, Jim Leonhard, Johnson Bademosi
The only real question concerning the starters would be the second CB spot. Gilbert and Srkine will battle for the role, but Gilbert should show enough to earn it and push Skrine to the nickel spot. Whitner and Gipson provide great support in both the passing and running game.
Billy Cundiff (K), Spencer Lanning (P), Christian Young (LS)
Cundiff and Lanning get the call once again for the Browns after K/P Jake Rogers was recently cut. Yount has been the team's long snapper since 2011.
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