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4 takeaways from Browns' initial 53-man roster for 2022

The Browns’ 53-man roster is set but far from locked for Week 1


The Browns' roster is down to 53 players as Week 1 creeps closer and closer — 12 days, to be exact.

Though the roster remains fluid, we're breaking down the most important things to come from this version of the Browns' 53.

1. Continuity across the defense

There aren't many new players on the defense. 17 of the 26 guys on that side of the ball were on the team last year, and nine of them were starters, meaning the Browns should be able to build from an excellent finish to last season where they became one of the league's top defenses.

The only two new starters are Taven Bryan and Jordan Elliott at defensive tackle. Five rookies — CB M.J. Emerson Jr., DEs Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas, DT Perrion Winfrey and undrafted rookie S D'Anthony Bell — all made the team, and DE Isaac Rochell, LB Jordan Kunaszyk and DE Chase Winovich and Bryan are the only players who weren't on the team a year ago. 

It's a group that's talented, deep and certainly capable of picking up where it left off from 2021.

Check out photos from practices and the preseason of each of the players who made the Browns' initial 53-man roster announced Tuesday

2. Impressive run with rookies continues

For the third consecutive year since Andrew Berry became Executive VP and GM of Football Operations, the Browns have kept all their rookie draft picks.

That seemed highly unlikely after the Browns drafted nine players and added to a roster that already was deep before the draft started, but strong training camps from guys who might've been considered on the bubble changed that.

Thomas, a seventh-rounder, had two sacks in the first preseason game. Woods, a sixth-rounder, was one of the most impressive players during the first week of camp, and it helped him stay on the roster despite missing the last three weeks with a hamstring injury. Dawson Deaton, a seventh-rounder, was placed on injured reserve and won't play this season, but he would've had a shot at making the 53-man roster, too, with the season-ending knee injury to Nick Harris.

The Browns have kept all 24 of the players they've drafted under Berry since 2020, a remarkable feat that shows just how well the front office has constructed the roster through the draft. Bell, a safety who also went undrafted out of Division II West Florida, is also the first undrafted rookie to crack the initial 53-man list.

3. Positions poised for more change

The first draft of the 53-man roster will almost certainly not be the same list we see Sept. 11 in Charlotte, and two positions stick out most as ones likely to change: tight end and defensive end.

David Njoku and Harrison Bryant are the only two tight ends on the initial roster, but the Browns have always carried three or more tight ends under head coach Kevin Stefanski. They'll need someone as a backup for Njoku and Bryant.

From a playbook perspective, the offense likely won't use packages featuring three tight ends as much this season, but they led the league in 13-personnel usage (three tight ends, one running back) in each of the last two seasons. They won't go away from those looks entirely, so the third tight end could be someone who plays semi-frequently.

It's also unlikely the Browns carry six defensive ends. They had just three on their initial 53-man roster last season, and there's little need to carry that many at a position that usually needs just two players on the field. The Browns are well-set in that regard with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, and Wright is a safe bet to be a backup option throughout the year as a third-round pick who performed well in camp. The Browns might have to make tough decisions soon between Winovich, Rochell and Thomas.

4. Other moves to come

Hundreds of players across the league were placed Tuesday on the waiver wire, and the Browns will certainly have interest in a share of them as they complete not only their roster, but the 16 spots they can fill on the practice squad.

The first list of 53 players is rarely, if ever the final list of guys who will be on the field Week 1. Given the positions discussed in the previous section, as well as other areas the Browns could look to add guys (like wide receiver or defensive tackle), it feels certain that more changes are ahead in the coming days.

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