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Ranking the Cleveland Browns' 53-man roster

Posted Feb 17, 2014

Senior Editor Vic Carucci and Nathan Zegura, co-hosts of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” rank the team’s 53-man roster as it stood at the end of last season.

As the Browns turn their attention toward addressing needs through free agency and the draft, it’s a good time to take a hard look at what they already have in the way of talent.

After a 4-12 finish, it would be easy to conclude that the cupboard is mostly bare.

However, the Browns do have some core players, including six who played in the Pro Bowl, that should contribute to the efforts of turning things around under a new head coach, Mike Pettine, and a new general manager, Ray Farmer.

The player-personnel and coaching staffs have been doing their assessments of the players already on the team.

Nathan Zegura, my co-host on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” and I have put together our own ranking of the 53-man roster as it stood at the end of last season.

It goes as follows:

1. Joe Haden, CB: In his first Pro Bowl season, he demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is among the top cornerbacks in the game.

2. Josh Gordon, WR: During a remarkable second season, he needed only 14 games (missing the first two because of a suspension) to establish himself as one of the NFL’s more dominant players at any position.

3. Joe Thomas, OT: A seventh consecutive Pro Bowl appearance put the exclamation point on the fact that he is, arguably, the best offensive tackle in the league.

4. Alex Mack, C: He finally received the recognition he deserved by being voted to his first Pro Bowl.

5. Jabaal Sheard, OLB: He made a fairly seamless transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, battling back from a knee injury that cost him three games to lead the Browns with 5.5 sacks.

6. Desmond Bryant, DE: His season was cut short by four games after he developed an irregular heartbeat that required surgery, but still led the Browns with 32 quarterback harassments.

7. T.J. Ward, S: He capped off the best of his four NFL seasons by being a second-team selection to the Associated Press All-Pro team and a Pro Bowl alternate.

8. Jordan Cameron, TE: By showing off the tremendous athleticism that allowed him to reach career highs for receptions (80), receiving yards (917), and touchdowns (seven), he made his first Pro Bowl appearance.

9. Phil Taylor, NT: He did a good job of making the transition from defensive tackle to nose tackle in the Browns’ 3-4 defensive conversion last season.

10. Ahtyba Rubin, DL: After missing the first two games of the season with a calf injury, he went on to lead the Browns’ defensive line with 80 tackles, including 45 solo.

11. Paul Kruger, OLB: Given the Browns’ considerable investment they made to acquire him as a free agent, Kruger’s 4.5 sacks were a disappointment.

12. D’Qwell Jackson, ILB: He had a team-leading 143 tackles, including 93 solo, for his sixth 100-tackle season, but like most of the rest of the defense, he did have some his issues in pass coverage.

13. Barkevious Mingo, OLB: His raw athleticism and instincts did plenty to allow him to rank second on the Browns with five sacks and become the first rookie in team history to register a sack in each of his first three games, but he needs to refine his skills, especially in pass coverage.

14. Tashaun Gipson, S: He was a pleasant surprise by becoming a solid starter at free safety, which had been one of the major areas of concern before the season, and going on to lead the team with five interceptions.

15. Billy Cundiff, K: He alleviated concerns about his ability to replace Phil Dawson, one of the best kickers in the history of the game, by converting 21 of 26 field-goal attempts (80.8 percent) and especially by setting Browns records with 42 touchbacks and a 67.7 touchback percentage.

16. Brian Hoyer, QB: With impressive performances in two starts before suffering a season-ending knee injury in his third, he seemingly made a convincing case to compete for the No. 1 spot during the offseason and perhaps serving as a bridge until the quarterback the Browns are likely to draft in May is ready to play.

17. Johnson Bademosi, DB: For the second season in a row, he led the Browns in special-teams tackles (17) and is widely regarded as one of the best “gunners” on punt-team coverage in the league.

18. Travis Benjamin, WR: Although he missed the second half of the season with a knee injury, he still established himself as one of the NFL’s most dangerous punt-returners.

19. Mitchell Schwartz, OT: After a shaky start, he seemed to make strides toward the end of the season.

20. John Greco, OG: He overcame a slow start to the season to make himself a fairly steady presence at one of the shakier positions on the team.

21. Buster Skrine, CB: He showed significant improvement over a rough 2012 season, but still has strides to make.

22. Chris Ogbonnaya, FB: He gave the Browns a serviceable presence in what was easily the weakest area of the team.

23. Billy Winn, DL: His high-motor approach and considerable athleticism serve him well in any defensive scheme.

24. Quentin Groves, OLB: Before suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him for 11 games, including the final seven of the season, he established himself as a strong force on special teams and a good situational pass-rusher.

25. John Hughes, DL: He lent good depth to the interior of the defensive line.

26. Leon McFadden, CB

27. Dion Lewis, RB

28. Jason Campbell, QB

29. Josh Aubrey, DB

30. Edwin Baker, RB, Shawn Lauvao, OG

31. Christian Yount, LS

32. Jason Pinkston, OG

33. Armonty Bryant, DL

34. Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, DL

35. Spencer Lanning, P

36. Gary Barnidge, TE

37. Brandon Weeden, QB

38. Craig Robertson, ILB

39. MarQueis Gray, TE

40. Fozzy Whittaker, RB

41. Brian Sanford, DL

42. Jordan Poyer, DB

43. Josh Cooper, WR

44. Garrett Gilkey, OL

45. Eric Martin, LB

46. Brian Tyms, WR

47. Andre Smith, TE

48. Keavon Milton, TE

49. Oneil Cousins, OL

50. Darius Eubanks, LB

51. Willis McGahee, RB

52. Davone Bess, WR

53. Greg Little, WR

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.