Sorting out the supersized Browns roster

Big-legged Aussie Brad Craddock kicked a 57-yard FG against Ohio State last fall. Will he beat out Travis Coons? (Columbus Dispatch photo)

After the Browns announced their undrafted free agent signings yesterday, we updated the best roster spreadsheet on the web. So here are some observations about what we hope will be a rejuvenated team.

There are now 92 names listed. One is the chronically-suspended Josh Gordon, but that still puts the Browns a tick over the 90-man limit. At least one more move will certainly be made before all the rookies sign their contracts. In reality, we’ll probably see a handful of drops and adds following next weekend’s rookie minicamp, which will include several tryout invitees.

Drafting a depth chart now would be folly. Until we know how the coaches intend to deploy their new charges, there are just too many questions.

  • Will 242-pound Terrell Watson compete with two other fullbacks for a spot, or will he sink or swim as a tailback?
  • Which WRs will be assigned to the X, Z, and slot roles?
  • Which edge rushers should be considered defensive ends versus outside linebackers, and does it really matter?
  • Will any of the 11 cornerbacks move over to compete with the eight safeties?
  • Some offensive linemen (e.g. Austin Pasztor and Alvin Bailey) have positional versatility, but who among them should be considered a candidate for starting right tackle job versus primarily a guard? The O-line situation is just way too fluid right now.

With the influx of rookies, the average age on the roster is now 26 years, nine months, five days. The skewing effect of Josh McCown makes the median a little younger: 26 years, two months, 29 days.

As for tenure with the Browns, the average player was acquired just one year, 11 months, 11 days ago. The median is even less. Half of the Browns were acquired before and half after August 5, 2014, one year, nine months and one day ago.

Here’s the number of current players acquired by each Browns front office regime:

  • Phil Savage (2005-08) – 1
  • Holmgren/Heckert (2010-12) – 5
  • Banner/Lombardi (2013) – 6
  • Ray Farmer (2014-15) – 47
  • Sashi Brown (2016) – 33.

Here are the totals by method of acquisition:

  • draft – 33
  • undrafted free agents – 19
  • “street” free agents (released by other teams) – 18
  • claimed off waivers – 10
  • unrestricted free agents – 6
  • trade – 3
  • signed from another team’s practice squad – 2
  • restricted free agents – 1.

These Browns are set to become unrestricted free agents after this season:

The average listed (though notoriously inaccurate) weight of a Browns player is 240 pounds, ranging from 167-pound WR Taylor Gabriel to OL Erle Ladson, who’s more than twice as heavy at 346 pounds. The original Browns team in 1946 included only one player above today’s average: 248-pound tackle Ernie Blandin.

Here’s a summary of the roster by draft position (regardless of original team):

  • 1st round: 8
  • 2nd round: 7
  • 3rd round: 11
  • 4th round: 7
  • 5th round: 6
  • 6th round: 4
  • 7th round: 6
  • Undrafted: 43.

I can’t help but figure that the draft emphasis on receivers and pass rushers will result in the shedding of several more veterans before the real games start. If Gordon is ever reinstated, he’ll probably be traded for a conditional pick. I’ve got Barkevious Mingo and Armonty Bryant on the endangered list as well. But if Bryant, suspended for the first four regular-season games, shows well ahead of that, he’ll be considered as an injury replacement in October.

The competition in the secondary will be fascinating as well. If CB Joe Haden were healthy, expensive 33-year-old Tramon Williams would probably already be gone. The front office must be praying that enough youngsters prove viable in a hurry. But they’re right not to count on the likes of Justin Gilbert from the get-go. (Though I would like to see Gilbert get a shot at punt returner.)

Surely several players will get hurt and, and I expect a few promising but raw rookies to end up on injured reserve with less than catastrophic medical issues. But here’s my way-too-early prediction of the opening day 53-man roster (rookies in bold):

This projection has two drafted rookies (Ricardo Louis and Seth DeValve) on the outside looking in, while two UDFAs make the team. I probably overestimated the number of veterans to be retained, with Mingo the most noteworthy absence. But really, about the only thing I’m sure of about this is the probability of another top-ten pick (and maybe two!) come next spring.