The Cleveland Browns have altered every element of their organization this offseason. It began with the front office and coaching staff before extending into player personnel and even jersey changes. When training camp commences, the team will feature several new names so it is time to become familiar with each of them.
For the purpose of this depth chart projection, we will be projecting up to the top four at any given position. The Browns will carry 90 players on the roster until forced to settle on the 53-man roster.
Rookies will be denoted with a (*).
|QB|| Baker Mayfield ||Case Keenum||Garrett Gilbert||Kevin Davidson*|
|RB||Nick Chubb||Kareem Hunt||Dontrell Hilliard||Brian Herrien*|
|FB||Andy Janovich||Johnny Stanton|
|LWR||Jarvis Landry||Donovan Peoples-Jones*||KhaDarel Hodge||J'Marcus Bradley*|
|RWR||Odell Beckham Jr.||Damion Ratley||J'Mon Moore||Tony Brown*|
|SWR||Rashard Higgins||Taywan Taylor||Jojo Natson||D.J. Montgomery|
|TE||Austin Hooper||David Njoku||Harrison Bryant*||Stephen Carlson|
|LT||Jedrick Wills*||Kendall Lamm||Alex Taylor*|| |
|LG||Joel Bitonio||Malcolm Pridgeon||Colby Gossett|| |
|C||J.C. Tretter||Nick Harris*||Evan Brown||Willie Wright|
|RG||Wyatt Teller||Drew Forbes|| || |
|RT||Jack Conklin||Chris Hubbard||Drake Dorbeck*|| |
Baker Mayfield is the unquestioned starter at quarterback entering his third year. After a standout rookie season, Mayfield regressed within an inefficient offense that lacked an identity. He has gone back to the basics this offseason and is allowing his play to speak for him. Cleveland did add some insurance with experience in the offensive system in the form of veteran Case Keenum, whose best season came working with head coach Kevin Stefanski in 2017.
Nick Chubb should blossom in a wide zone blocking scheme. His combination of vision, burst and power should create some open rushing lanes. The Browns have the luxury of turning to Kareem Hunt when Chubb is in need of a break. Hunt has a strong case as the league's best backup running back. In all likelihood, 2020 is the last season that the running back plays for his hometown team.
Cleveland has a wealth of talent at the skill positions. At wide receiver, Pro Bowl staples Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. provide the team with consistency and dynamic ability. The team will mix in Rashard Higgins and rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones as well. Jojo Natson was signed as a returner so a spot on the roster is likely earmarked for him as well. At tight end, the Browns surprised many by signing top tight end Austin Hooper to pair with David Njoku. Harrison Bryant was too good of a value to pass up in the draft.
The primary reason for excitement is found on the offensive line. The biggest weaknesses -- left and right tackle -- were upgraded in grand fashion. Jedrick Wills was drafted No. 10 overall to start on the left side despite spending his high school and collegiate careers on the opposite side. Cleveland also stretched the free agent market when they signed veteran Jack Conklin to occupy the right tackle spot. Those elite talents should fit nicely alongside Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter. Wyatt Teller likely has a small advantage at the right guard spot but competition is likely to ensue.
Offensive line coach Bill Callahan expressed his excitement in a conference call with reporters:
"When you watch a player on film, I think in a couple of ways your takeaways are 'Well, this guy is a player. He is solid. He has athletic ability.' With Jedrick, it was a little bit different in that you can feel him on film. He came alive on tape, and you got excited about what he was doing throughout the course of the game. A lot of times, people talk about make-up and they talk about characters and all these other things, which are great -- which he does have -- but he has these intangibles that show up in tangible ways on film. You watch him finish. You watch the detail, the technique. You watch his consistent effort and his stamina throughout the course of the game from start to finish. I think that was the appeal for me. I think our scouts did a great job, and organizationally, I think everybody contributed to his selection and really speak highly of him. All the background work that our scouts did prior to the draft and also at the combine just speak volumes for the player. When you put all those pieces, it is not a hard decision to make."
|DE||Myles Garrett||Adrian Clayborn||Porter Gustin|
|DT||Sheldon Richardson||Andrew Billings||Eli Ankou|
|DT||Larry Ogunjobi||Jordan Elliott*||Daniel Ekuale|
|DE||Olivier Vernon||Chad Thomas|| |
|LB||Mack Wilson||Willie Harvey||Solomon Ajayi*|
|LB||B.J. Goodson||Jacob Phillips*||Tae Davis|
|LB||Sione Takitaki||Jermaine Grace||Trevon Young|
|LCB||Denzel Ward||Terrance Mitchell||Donnie Lewis Jr.|
|RCB||Greedy Williams||A.J. Green*||Tavierre Thomas|
|SCB||Kevin Johnson||Donovan Olumba|| |
|FS||Grant Delpit*||Andrew Sendejo|| |
|SS||Karl Joseph||Sheldrick Redwine||J.T. Hassell|
The Browns did not make any big signings on the defensive side of the ball but they did devote some resources in the draft. Second-round safety Grant Delpit should assume a starting role immediately. Defensive tackle Jordan Elliott and linebacker Jacob Phillips should provide depth with the potential to develop into a starter's role.
Defensive end Myles Garrett has been reinstated by the NFL after missing the final six games of the regular season. When available, Garrett has been one of the league's most effective pass rushers. He recorded 10 sacks in 10 games before serving his suspension. Adrian Clayborn was signed as depth and competent edge rush ability. Olivier Vernon is looking to bounce back on the other side but Cleveland continues to engage Jadeveon Clowney in contract talks. A signing could render Vernon expendable.
On the inside, the Browns are reliant on a platoon approach. Larry Ogunjobi was great two seasons ago but took a step backwards last season. Sheldon Richardson has been an above average interior player for most of his career. Free agent signing Andrew Billings and the aforementioned Elliott provide functional depth. It would not be a surprise to see either achieve a starting role as the season trudges along.
The linebacker unit is clearly a weakness for the AFC North franchise. They have some intriguing names with Sione Takitaki, Mack Wilson and Phillips all having been drafted in the past two years. Veteran B.J. Goodson was signed to provide competition. It would not be a surprise if the team explores the addition of another linebacker or two when other teams begin making cuts.
Cleveland has drafted Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams early in recent years. Those two players were hampered by hamstring injuries in 2019. A transition to Joe Woods' defensive scheme should allow them to operate more freely, which is best suited to their abilities. Veterans Kevin Johnson and Terrance Mitchell give them some competent patrolmen on the edge and in the slot. A.J. Green was signed to a lucrative undrafted free agency deal so it could be assumed that the front office likes his potential.
Beyond the linebacker unit, the safety position is the biggest area of exposure. The coaching staff should be able to find a solid rotation with the likes of Andrew Sendejo, Karl Joseph, Sheldrick Redwine and Delpit. Each has their own issues to work through this season.
Despite Joseph being a former first round pick, Delpit represents the most upside. Woods had the following to say about the incoming rookie on a conference call with reporters:
"Grant is a very talented player. When you look at his tape, he has the ability to play down in the box and he has the ability to play in the post. We can play him in the dime. He can match up in the slot and man coverage. He is the ideal type of athlete that I look forward to getting in the secondary. The size and the speed, to me, he possesses it all. Obviously, everybody has talked about it and he has heard about it from everybody about the tackling issues. The one thing is I know he can tackle. We just need him to be more consistent. That is something we will work on. He is eager and he is ready to go."
|K||Austin Seibert|| |
|P||Jamie Gillan|| |
|LS||Charley Hughlett|| |
|KR||Jojo Natson||Tavierre Thomas|
|PR||Jojo Natson||Taywan Taylor|
Cleveland made a leap last off-season when they committed to rookies Austin Seibert and Jamie Gillan. Both had strong seasons and could solidify the unit for quite some time. As referenced earlier, Natson was signed as a key piece to the return game.