I’ve had varying degrees of success predicting the final roster toward the end of training camp – never all 53 players correct – but I’m always up for a challenge. And because I spent a decent chunk of the last month watching the Browns practice, here goes.
The toughest decisions were the final couple of spots on the offensive line and at linebacker.
QUARTERBACK (3): Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy
Comment: Sorry, Brett Ratliff, they’re not keeping four.
RUNNING BACK (5): Jerome Harrison, Montario Hardesty, James Davis, Peyton Hillis, Lawrence Vickers
Comment: There’s no guarantee the Browns keep four tailbacks along with the fullback Vickers. Hillis could be the odd man out if he doesn’t find a role on special teams.
WIDE RECEIVER (5): Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, Chansi Stuckey, Joshua Cribbs, Carlton Mitchell
Comment: Rookie free agent Johnathan Haggerty could earn a spot, especially if Cribbs is doing too much other stuff to be a part of the receiver rotation.
TIGHT END (3): Benjamin Watson, Alex Smith, Evan Moore
Comment: Robert Royal was supposed to be one of the key free-agent pickups last season, but had no impact and is out after one season.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8): Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Alex Mack, Shawn Lauvao, Floyd Womack, Tony Pashos, Paul Fanaika, Scott Kooistra
Comment: The Browns have talent and depth across the line. John St. Clair loses out to youth.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6): Shaun Rogers, Ahtyba Rubin, Robaire Smith, Kenyon Coleman, Cliff Geathers, Brian Schaefering
Comment: Not much competition here. Veteran C.J. Mosley could stick if the Browns keep seven linemen.
LINEBACKER (9): Scott Fujita, Chris Gocong, D’Qwell Jackson, David Bowens, David Veikune, Kaluka Maiava, Jason Trusnik, Matt Roth, Blake Costanzo
Comment: More than a dozen guys have a chance to make the roster in what should be the most interesting battles. Fujita is guaranteed a spot, but beyond him anything’s possible. Marcus Benard, Eric Barton and Titus Brown could play their way onto the team.
CORNERBACK (7): Eric Wright, Sheldon Brown, Joe Haden, Mike Adams, Brandon McDonald, Coye Francies, DeAngelo Smith
Comment: The position was upgraded in the offseason. Francies, a 2009 draft pick, is vulnerable.
SAFETY (4): Abram Elam, T.J. Ward, Larry Asante, Nick Sorensen
Comment: Ray Ventrone could earn a spot based on his special teams play.
SPECIALISTS (3): Kicker Phil Dawson, punter Dave Zastudil, long snapper Ryan Pontbriand
Comment: If Zastudil’s knee isn’t healed, Reggie Hodges could stick around.