|Joe Thomas isn't going anywhere. The Browns LT signed a six-year contract and his future looks bright. (US Presswire)|
The bye week brings speculation for all NFL teams. The youth and inexperience that fills the Browns roster add to the debate about who is a keeper and who has proven himself unworthy of a starting position.
Here is an analysis of each starter or frequent contributor and the category in which they fall:
Set it stone
LT Joe Thomas: The Browns signed the perennial Pro Bowler to a six-year contract in 2011 for a reason. This is a no-brainer.
C Alex Mack: Ravens DT Haloti Ngata called Mack the best center in the AFC North. Definitely a keeper.
RT Mitchell Schwartz: The rookie second-round pick has improved dramatically in pass protection and run blocking.
RB Trent Richardson: He's had back-to-back 100-yard games. Just wait until his ribs stop aching.
WR Josh Gordon: Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch. His overall athleticism dwarfs that of his fellow Browns receivers, but that's not saying much.
DT Ahtyba Rubin: Rubin is a tireless, energy-driven tackle who covers the entire field.
MLB D'Qwell Jackson: Age is creeping up, but Jackson is the best defensive player on the team right now and one of the top tacklers in the NFL.
CB Joe Haden: He's still a bit inconsistent in coverage, but is among the league's best when he's on top of his game.
SS T.J. Ward: One of the best safeties around at defending the run, his coverage skills are also improving. No interceptions since 2010, though.
PK Phil Dawson: Nobody is more dependable. That he has yet to earn a Pro Bowl berth because total points scored seems to be the lone criteria is a travesty. Is 17-for-17 in FGs this year.
Jury's still out
RG Shawn Lauvao: He's OK as a straight-ahead blocker and in pass protection, but struggles as a pulling guard. Needs to show more mobility to help Richardson run wide.
LG Jason Pinkston : Same as Lauvao -- and now he's out for the year with blood clot in his lung. His career is in jeopardy.
QB Brandon Weeden: Has displayed a fine arm, but consistent accuracy and decision-making still a problem. Has earned the chance to show his wares through 2012.
WR Greg Little: If he's over the dropsies, he belongs in the "set in stone" category. Perhaps he'll never be a 1,000-yard receiver, but should be solid starter.
WR Travis Benjamin: A speedster who has been a pleasant surprise on underneath and medium-range routes. Has been dependable, but not explosive.
TE Jordan Cameron: The potential as a premier pass-catcher exists, but drops and blocking skills lead to uncertainty.
DE Jabaal Sheard: His sack total has shrunk from 8.5 last year to 1.5 this year and he has not been disruptive in the face of more offensive attention.
DE Frostee Rucker: A half-season is not long enough to determine if he's a long-term solution or stop-gap at that position.
DT Phil Taylor : A healthy first half might have made him a keeper, but he's just returned from pectoral surgery. Give him time.
DT Billy Winn: This pleasant surprise is just a rookie. A fine inside pass rusher with run-stopping ability. If he continues his progress, he's a keeper.
OLB James-Michael Johnson: He's getting experience as a starter and has shown promise. Simply too early to tell.
CB Buster Skrine: He's an aggressive, confident corner who has performed better after a terrible start in 2012.
Time to look elsewhere
WR Mohamed Massaquoi: He's brittle and inconsistent. The Browns have given him enough time and now have better options.
FB Owen Marecic: Four targets, four drops. Mediocre lead blocker. This 2011 pick was a mistake. Move on.
TE Benjamin Watson: Clearly on the downside of his career. He is not the future at that position.
OLB Kaluka Maiava: He's starting because Chris Gocong is out. The Browns No. 1 draft need is a pass-rushing stud on the outside. Maiava is not the answer.
CB Sheldon Brown: Actually, he's having a fine season. But he's aging and he needs help against NFL burners. The Browns must soon find a replacement. They don't seem inclined to move him to safety.
P Reggie Hodges: He's kicked too many short line drives and shanks this year. This team can do better.
Stay dialed in on the Cleveland Browns on Twitter at @CBSBrowns throughout the season with on-site updates from CBSSports.com RapidReports correspondent Marty Gitlin.