The Cleveland Browns open training camp on July 27 at the team facility in Berea, Ohio. Here's a 53-man roster projection:
The annual quarterback competition should finish with the same three players who have been there since spring. The Browns had plenty of chances to sign a veteran in the offseason but didn't, which indicates these are the three they want to go with -- with Kevin Hogan on the practice squad.
Crowell had a strong 2016 season and is playing on a one-year tender that makes this his free-agent year. He will be backed up again by Johnson. Dayes figures to make the team based on his ability and the Browns' belief in their draft picks.
FULLBACK (1): Danny Vitale
He's the only fullback on the roster, so ...
It would not be a surprise to see the Browns sign a veteran at some point during the preseason since this group is so green. This projection does not keep Jordan Payton on the roster, but that's because Alford can return kicks and Hall caught head coach Hue Jackson's attention a year ago before missing the 2016 season to injury.
This is an interesting group. Njoku's physical skills were eye-opening in the offseason, and DeValve showed receiving ability last season. The two could be used in a variety of ways, and if Njoku lives up to his potential, he could be used in roles that essentially make him a fourth receiver. Telfer makes the team because one tight end needs to be able to block.
I do not include Cam Erving. I think when camp is done, his time in Cleveland will have come to an end. The top five are set as long as Bitonio is recovered from Lisfranc surgery before the season opener. Greco stays for his versatility, McCants because he can play tackle.
The Browns have done good things with this group, provided Brantley and Ogunjobi can play. If those two come through, and if Garrett lives up to billing, this is a formidable group with lots of possible combinations. Orchard will be intriguing to watch as he moves back to his natural position. It's tough to see defensive coordinator Gregg Williams giving up on a guy with his size and ability.
Six linebackers is light, so this projection probably may well change by camp's end. At the moment, it's tough to find seven. Carder's tale is amazing. He's been with the Browns since 2012, putting him third in overall tenure behind Thomas and Joe Haden. With the trade of Demario Davis, he begins camp as the starting middle linebacker.
For now, McCourty will be listed with the corners. But the possibility of pairing his experience and savvy with Jabrill Peppers at safety has to be enticing to the Browns. A secondary of McCourty, Peppers, Haden and Taylor has potential. Howard Wilson's injury opens up a spot for Caldwell.
Reynolds played fairly well last season, so if he's the starter at free safety, the Browns would be comfortable. Whoever plays free safety will have to cover a lot of ground; Peppers figures to play closer to the line. He's not a ball hawk.
Same as it ever was.