- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cleveland Browns will have an unusual final 53-man roster. It appears the team will keep at least seven receivers; coach Mike Pettine said it could be eight. That’s a very high number. I’m predicting the team keeps only two quarterbacks as well — but that is based on Johnny Manziel being healthy. The Browns had 12 draft picks. Not all of them will make the team.
Here's a predicted 53-man roster coming out of the preseason and heading into Saturday's roster moves.:
This assumes Manziel’s elbow is OK. If so, he’s the backup and the Browns roll the dice with two quarterbacks. If not, the Browns have to figure a way to keep a third. Do not discount the possibility that they bring in a different No. 3 after cuts, especially if Matt McGloin is cut by the Raiders.
RUNNING BACK (3)
The coaching staff loves Shaun Draughn, but the Browns can make it work with these three backs.
There are high hopes for this sixth-round pick. It's a projection due to the time Johnson missed with a shoulder injury.
TIGHT END (3)
Bibbs did too much right not to keep him. He’s a tight end who might be able to do something with the ball after the catch. Rob Housler just didn’t do enough to earn a spot.
WIDE RECEIVER (7)
Vince Mayle is not included because he didn’t earn it. This is one negative on Ray Farmer’s drafting — in two of the best receiver drafts in a long time, he wound up with a slow guy who had trouble catching the ball. Pryor’s spot is based on a projection. If it went off what he did in preseason, he’d be cut. But the team sees potential in him, and playmaking, so they give him a chance. As for Bowe and not Josh Lenz, Bowe is guaranteed $9 million. That demands production from him. He stays.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
Coaches were impressed with the quiet professionalism and attitude of McDonald. Painter’s versatility gives him a spot. The starting five are solidly locked in.
DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
Obviously I was wrong in assuming before camp opened that Phil Taylor would have a spot but Winn would not. Good for Winn for proving me wrong. Dylan Wynn did a lot right, but there’s a numbers game here and he just misses. Bryant’s versatility and playmaking ability earn him the final spot, though it’s at line and not linebacker.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
Mingo’s fast recovery from knee surgery helps solidify the depth at this spot. Solomon had a strong third preseason game.
INSIDE LINEBACKER (3)
Not much debate needed here. These are all quality players. Rookie Hayes Pullard heads to the practice squad. One caveat: The Browns' backup offensive line hardly distinguished itself all preseason. If the team decides to keep seven instead of eight, a spot opens up here for Tank Carder.
The Browns won’t give up on Gilbert this early. But they need to see him contribute more. K’Waun Williams is a quality player, but he also seems injury-prone. That must be a concern. Gaines improved every day of camp and preseason.
Campbell was very impressive. He has a future if he continues to grow. Bademosi makes it for his special-teams ability.
Coons won the preseason competition with Carey Spear to be the place-kicker, but the Browns will take a long look at any veterans released in final cuts. Lee will be one of the team’s most important weapons as the punter.