X

Have feedback / suggestions? Let us know!

NFL Cleveland Browns

10 Cleveland Browns to Watch During the 2014 Preseason

10 Cleveland Browns to Watch During the Preseason

Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel
Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns head into their first preseason game this weekend with a roster of about 90 players, meaning young players and newcomers will see significant action in order for the coaching staff to determine who is worthy of making the final 53-man roster. With so many positional battles that need to play out, here are ten players to keep an eye on during the Browns' 2014 preseason — all for various reasons.

10. Joel Bitonio, Offensive Lineman

Joel Bitonio
Getty Images

10. Joel Bitonio, Offensive Lineman

Joel Bitonio
Getty Images

The Browns used their second round draft selection on the versatile Bitonio, who has the speed to play tackle, the size and inside blocking ability to play guard, and enough of a football IQ to line up at center. However, when the Browns released their first depth chart of the season they had Bitonio at left guard, moving John Greco to the right side. It will be interesting to see if Cleveland shifts him around to see how he fares in other spots.

9. Jacobbi McDaniel, Defensive Lineman

Jacobbi McDaniel
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

9. Jacobbi McDaniel, Defensive Lineman

Jacobbi McDaniel
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Browns are returning their defensive line from last year, players like undrafted rookie free agent Jacobbi McDaniel still have a chance to play their way onto the 53-man roster. McDaniel was limited in his time with Florida State due to injuries, but has impressed so far in camp, showing that he belongs with an NFL team. Though there won't be much room on the active roster, McDaniel could be looking at a spot on the practice squad.

8. Terrance West, Running Back

Terrance West
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

8. Terrance West, Running Back

Terrance West
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout training camp, Terrance West will battle Ben Tate to be named the starting running back. Tate and West have different playing styles, so offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be able to give the two different looks during preseason competition. West is intriguing because he resembles Alfred Morris, who had a successful rookie season in Shanahan's offensive scheme in Washington. Keep an eye on how West is used throughout preseason.

7. Willie Snead, Wide Receiver

Willie Snead2
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

7. Willie Snead, Wide Receiver

Willie Snead
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Willie Snead has been mentioned as a possible roster replacement for Josh Gordon, should the Pro Bowl WR be sidelined due to suspension. Snead has looked very good for an undrafted rookie and has emerged as a reliable receiving option in the Browns' offense. Due to the nature of preseason, expect Snead to see a large chunk of playing time and targets as the Browns assess whether he will make the active roster over several other WR prospects.

6. Charles Johnson, Wide Receiver

Charles Johnson
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

6. Charles Johnson, Wide Receiver

Charles Johnson
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Like Snead, Charles Johnson is looking to make a name for himself and give the Browns enough reason to keep him on the 53-man roster. Johnson's size is comparable to Josh Gordon's, but he has yet to show the same dynamic playmaking ability due to his proneness to injury. With so many receivers in camp, Johnson will need to make the most of his on-field opportunities throughout preseason contests.

5. Isaiah Crowell, Running Back

Isaiah Crowell
Getty Images

5. Isaiah Crowell, Running Back

Isaiah Crowell
Getty Images

Last season, Cleveland struggled to find balance on offense due to a lack of a running game. In 2014, the first order of business was to bring life back into the RB position and provide the team with viable options. Now, the Browns have six at the position including rookie free agent Isaiah Crowell. Crowell had his troubles while in school, but has the skill to be an NFL RB. He may be hard pressed for carries with other fringe backs in the mix.

4. Justin Gilbert, Cornerback

Justin Gilbert
Getty Images

4. Justin Gilbert, Cornerback

Justin Gilbert
Getty Images

Cornerback Justin Gilbert was drafted in order to lock up and legitimize the position alongside Joe Haden in Cleveland. However, it was interesting to see Gilbert's name behind last year's starter Buster Skrine; a motivational tactic perhaps, but it certainly shows that the first-round pick will need to continue to progress in order to earn the starting role. Gilbert should see some work with the first team at some point during preseason games.

3. Brian Hoyer, Quarterback

Brian Hoyer
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

3. Brian Hoyer, Quarterback

Brian Hoyer
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

All offseason, talk about the Browns revolved around the coaching staff and the QB position. Brian Hoyer is in a tightly contested race with rookie Johnny Manziel and will need to perform the way he did in 2013 before his season was cut short due to a torn ACL. Hoyer will get the starting nod in the team's first preseason game on Saturday, and has said that he fully expects to be the starter come Week 1 of the regular season.

2. Barkevious Mingo, Linebacker

Barkevious Mingo
Getty Images

2. Barkevious Mingo, Linebacker

Barkevious Mingo
Getty Images

Cleveland's No 1. draft choice in 2013's draft, Barkevious Mingo, performed well at times during his rookie season. Mingo accounted for 42 tackles and five sacks in 14 games, and should get a huge boost in his sophomore year with the hiring of Mike Pettine and his blitz schemes. Expect Mingo to show why he deserves to start by being around the QB often; if he performs well, he could push linebacker Jabaal Sheard into a down lineman role.

1. Johnny Manziel, Quarterback

Johnny Manziel
Getty Images

1. Johnny Manziel, Quarterback

Johnny Manziel
Getty Images

Since draft day, all eyes have been on Johnny Football and the preseason won't be much different. Manziel will begin the preseason as the No. 2 QB on the Browns' depth chart behind Brian Hoyer but that shouldn't discourage him from acting as if he'll be starting Week 1. It will be interesting to see if Manziel's playmaking ability can translate into the NFL game, and make enough plays to overtake Hoyer as the starter to begin the season.